picnic table memories and conversion

Today the picnic season officially begins and we no longer have a picnic table.

It’s gone, taken apart, cut into pieces.

For the past couple years, the table has existed under a sentence of doom. I pronounced the initial sentence the day I stepped on the end of the bench and the once bolted board gave way dumping me sideways to the ground. Bumping a nearby brick step did not soften my feelings for that table.

I limped back into the house and detailed my downfall.

“And, I know exactly which board it was, too,” my handyman said. “I’ve been meaning to fix it for some time.”
Even then it took him a while to fix it. After all he had built that table to last forever.

The table began as a pile of thick, weather-treated lumber shortly after we moved into our newly built house. With no house repairs pending, he created building projects. First and foremost he decided we needed a picnic table – one big enough for us and company. No cheap pine timbers slapped together to look good today only to warp and rot in a few years – he bought material that would last and bolted that thing together.

It lasted through kiddy parties, hot dog roasts in the back yard, a house full of energetic children and 25 years of weather. I wore out a couple terry cloth picnic tablecloths.

We have pictures of long forgotten meals at that table; our youngest son sleeping on it one hot summer day and smiling Hershberger women and girls posed there the week of my daughter’s wedding.

The second strike came the day I found a patio set at a moving sale and decided I preferred cushioned comfort to hard timber at my future lawn parties. There was not room on the patio for two tables.

The third strike came the day my man dragged in the portable gas grill from the neighbor’s yard sale.
He quickly discovered the grill needed counter space for all his meat, utensils, herbs, spices and sundries.
He began studying the picnic table. A few days later, he cut off the weathered ends, tossed them on the burning pile and temporarily arranged the good pieces into a portable counter to surround the grill.

Looked fine to me, but he said the boards needed to be planed smooth to freshen them up.
He pulled out the electric planer his children had given him for his 60th birthday. The unexpected gift left him in total awe. We literally had to pull him away from worshipping that machine to greet his guests.

For two days he entertained the neighborhood with the whine of the planer as he stripped off 25 years of aging and weathering – revealing plenty of good, thick, weather-treated wood underneath – wood made to last forever. He nailed and bolted it together and proudly displayed the personalized picnic table he had built around the grill. He attached a couple of wheels and pronounced it good.

So we no longer have a picnic table. Instead we have a patio table, cushioned chairs and a gas grill … and a reincarnated picnic table in its newer, smaller, more useable form … one  less likely to land my pride on the ground.