By John "Ol' Chumbucket" Baur
When you think about furniture, especially when you think about a big dining room table, you think about friends and family, right? A Norman Rockwell image of people gathered around the table on Thanksgiving or something like that.
Well, this is a story friends, family and furniture.
After securing the house on Friday, we spent Saturday running to garage and moving sales, always a good source of used furniture at good prices, and on the island really the best source for such things.
By 1 in the afternoon we’d found several things, including a love seat, and were driving back toward home with the back of the car stuffed with a wicker set of chairs and a little table. If I can brag for just a second, we found every sale with a minimum of directions and I don’t think we got lost at all, although I was pretty sure we were lost once, before we rounded the bend and saw the place.)
But there was one more sale to visit, and though we were pretty much feeling done, it was close, and the ad had sounded like it was right up our alley. A moving held by a family that after years on island was ready to move to the mainland, in North Carolina to be near family. They had some beautiful things, much too nice for the likes of us. Of particular interest was a Lane cedar chest and a handmade dining room table that the man, a carpenter, had made himself. The table was about six feet long, the top solid African mahogany, the legs Spanish cedar. It was very plain, very simple, just a little scroll work with a router. It was beautiful. It was also a tad more than we were prepared to spend.
Well, both were great pieces, the sort of thing our kids would fight over after we were dead and gone. The chest wasn’t a “must have,” but it was awfully nice, and the price was right. We ended up buying it.
The car was already full of the wicker we’d bought, so we arranged to come by the next day to pick up the chest.
That night, Tori had a dream about the table. I didn’t get the details, but we’ve been married long enough that I know what it means when she has a dream. We would be buying the table.
We went back on Sunday to get the chest. Pulled into the driveway and Daryle – the carpenter – made me pull back out and back across his lawn until I was right against the porch. “Why do you want to work that hard?” he asked, smiling. We got out of the car and their huge dog Beau (a mastiff, and a real sweetheart) lumbered over to be petted, drooling everywhere. We started chatting, Tori and I and Daryle and Arvena Satchell. How we’d ended up on the island. Why they were leaving. Did we have enough plasticware? We’d need it to keep ants out of everything. Moving’s a bitch, we all agreed, especially those last two weeks when you’re seriously just considering setting a big fire. Did we need a desk? They gave us the one Daryle had made. And the matching file cabinet and chair. How about these bookshelves? If they haven’t sold in two weeks we’re just throwing ’em away so why don’t you take them?
What do you do for a living? I’m a teacher, Tori said, and John’s a writer. The Satchell’s older daughter, Avonia, about seven years old with big, solemn eyes, looked up at that, went into the house and came back holding the book she had written about a day at the beach. “You can read it if you want to,” she said. So of course I read it. Handwritten and illustrated an carefully stapled together. A delightful tale. Then while Daryle took Tori in to look at the desk, Avonia took me around back to see the chicken laying eggs.
We weren’t sure how we were going to get all this stuff into our rig, let alone across the island to our new home. No problem, Daryle said. I’ve got the pickup until Tuesday and I’m not doing anything. We’re signing the lease Tuesday morning, so if the rental agent says it’s cool, we’ll just go with him to drop it off that afternoon.
We had driven over to pick up one piece - the chest. We were there over an hour, swapping stories with these lovely people, learning a bit of island lore (the spectacular Flamboyant trees, for instant, are only called that during this time of year when their fiery red blossoms are in full bloom. The rest of the year they’re called something that sounded like “shek shek,’ which doesn’t sound complimentary.) Daryle and Arvena took Tori around the yard pointing out different plants and talking about how to grow them. This was while I was reading Avonia’s story.)
At one point Daryle was explaining “island time,” which often drives newcomers crazy and with which even he sometimes has trouble. Even in the emergency room, he said, people take their time. “Nothing is urgent here,” he said, leaning back on the porch and gesturing expansively. I wanted to say, “You mean, like this now?” but I have better manners than that. Besides, I knew just what he meant. I was in no hurry, and they were nice people. What’s the rush?
And, of course, you have to keep things in perspective. Getting the furniture was important. But these delightful people are leaving the island soon, so we focused on what mattered most.
And, yes, we bought the table.