Years ago, at a country auction, I bid on a small, slightly wobbly, painted kitchen table. Five dollars and a nod later, I took it home and set about refinishing my prize. I stripped away the nineties dirt, the eighties white, the seventies avocado, the sixties lemon, the fifties salmon, and finally, along with seared lungs and blistered hands, I was left with a small, slightly wobbly, wooden kitchen table. With a giant scorch mark in the center that no strategically placed trivet could ever hope to hide.
The scorch mark was just the size of a cast iron skillet. Was it a mess of cornbread that had made its mark fifty years ago, or fried chicken, or gravy, or a Dutch baby? Was it good news or bad that caused the wielder of that hot pan to lose her head and leave it on the bare table long enough to scar?
I'll never know, but I did learn two things: first, for that distant family as for mine, life happened at the kitchen table. Or, as Joy Harjo puts it, The world begins at a kitchen table. It's the place where we linger over coffee and crosswords, build cardhouses, do homework, pick fights, break news.
And the second lesson? Some things are fine just as they are, no refinishing required.
Photo credit: Art Holman (that's me in the onesie, next to the gravy boat)