Our family has a story that has been passed down through the generations. The tale, in My Liturgy of Easy Walks: Finding the Sacred in Everyday (and some very strange) Places, describes an encounter my grandfather had with a farmer in Quebec. The farmer had a chicken coop. My grandfather visited the farm, and realized that one side of the chicken coop was constructed from a cherrywood table. As you might expect, the table was in rough shape, sharing company with a number of chickens.
The story goes that my grandfather asked if he could purchase the table. “No, I need a chicken coop,” was the farmer’s reply. My grandfather then offered to build him another chicken coop. Could he then buy the table? Of course, the farmer agreed.
Grampie brought the table back to his workshop and cleaned, then polished the table he had retrieved from the farm. Instead of being a dirt-covered portion of a chicken coop, it soon stood in a place of honor in his home, used to bring our family together for both daily and celebratory meals. After he died, the table passed to his daughter, my aunt, who continued honoring the transformation of the restored cherry wood table, where it became a gathering place for family and friends at her home.
When my aunt had to move to a smaller place, my son said his family would be glad to have the table at their home, Solace Farm Homestead. But this time, rather than returning to its long ago role as part of a chicken coop, the table has become an important part of their daily life.
Here’s an excerpt from my book:
My grandchildren will now grow up hearing the story of the grandfather from years past, who had eyes to see beyond the grime of the chicken yard and understood the potential that lay underneath the grit and muck. The table was transported once again, to another generation, and back to the farm. It and the stories that lie behind the glowing cherry wood had found their way home.
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My liturgy of Easy Walks: Finding the Sacred in everyday (and some very strange) Places.
She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress.