The Roanoker September/October 2017 - 14
FROM THE EDITOR
The Picnic Table
Here in this issue celebrating home and marriage, an inexpensive old
table may represent the best of both.
An old family picnic table gets a fresh look and a launch into its next decades.
LONG, LONG AGO, in the days when men
who have long been fathers were little boys
running around the backyard with squirt
guns (well, they still do that, though now
more often chasing children more than each
other), Gail and I took a deep breath, went
off to Lowe's or someplace and dug deep into our wallets for maybe
$34.95 to get a picnic table to put in that backyard.
We were pleased with this big investment. No, we did not get the
big sturdy model with two-by-six planks across the top, but instead
the lesser model, with six one-by-four planks forming its surface.
We sprung for stain as well, and after we applied it, we paused
now and again to look out the back door at this piece of domesticity added to our household.
Over the ensuing decades the table-surprise, surprise-reacted
to the elements in the ways that cheap picnic tables do. Thin boards
developed little splits and bigger warps. Nail heads rose out of some
boards and into the sunshine. Screws through the support boards
loosened. Stain faded and then fully disappeared.
The best thing you could say about the aged table was that it had
taken on a rustic look.
Which I liked. Or which I accepted in the context of its milieu-
the mostly-bricks patio that I mostly laid down and which carries
"rustic" as a primary characteristic.
Gail, on the other hand, had a different view of the old table. "It's
in terrible shape, Kurt. Warped. Coming apart. Split and splintery."
As the keeper of the backyard-with its bounty of tomatoes, its
healthy hostas, black-eyed Susans, its rock walkway gloriously ac14 | SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017
cented with "steppables"-Gail said we needed a new picnic table.
The brief showdown: Cheap old man adverse to change vs. busy
person taking time from the thousand other things she does to work
on making her backyard as pretty and inviting as it could be.
The table sat for a few weeks after that, catching more sun and
rain, becoming more rustic by the day.
Then she borrowed a sander from one of the grown-up squirtgunners, and set out on the table. No, the sander would not remove
the warps, and yes, some of the splits in the boards were so deep as
to preclude elimination by sanding. But, as happens when you use
a good tool, there was some level of satisfaction with smoothness.
Next came new lessons in wood filler: Some brands are way better
than others. One can's product pretty much broke up after the first
rain and ensuing sun. The good stuff really does do the job.
The cheap old man adverse to change is also prone to drab when
it comes to color.
But the fact that the table-and the old Adirondack chairs that
also underwent the processes applied to the table-is a kind of inyour-face teal, turns out to be of no concern to me after all.
Because the table, with its long history of family sitting at it and
around it-many times far too late into the night-is still there in
the backyard where it's been all these decades. And for those family
members who so far have seen it, the reaction has been unanimously
positive-the table is ready for more decades of family around it.
In this issue dedicated to homes and to marriages, the picnic table
seems an apt symbol. With both of those entities, the keys are continuity, care, compromise and inclusion. And, in my case, a long and
glorious history of such in both contexts. -KURT RHEINHEIMER