Before The Beekman was lovingly restored, it had been abandoned, left to weather the brutal elements atop the hill it has graced for more than two centuries.
The aging structure, with its grand rooms and firm place in the annals of the local lore, was far too much of a temptation for teenagers and vagabonds looking for a place to call their own. The walls were pocked with graffiti and the hallways littered with remnants of other people’s lives.
One day, earlier this year, one of said teenagers stopped by the farm and asked if The Table was still there. All she could remember about her time spent in the house was the massive table that stood in the dining room.
“No,” we said.
When we moved into The Beekman there wasn’t a stick of furniture, and we assumed that The Table had long since been turned into firewood by one of those former inhabitants as, from our visitor’s recollection, it was far too big to move.
Though in many modern homes the dining room is one of the most infrequently used (and is often absent all together), for The Beekman, it’s the most important piece of furniture in the house.
It must be big enough to hold the season’s harvest and serve up a celebratory meal.
It must have room for every visitor who stops by.
It must serve as a foundation for growing a business, for wrapping soaps, for slicing cheese and such
It must be sturdy enough to withstand angry fists pounding to emphasize a point and must not, repeat, MUST NOT back down when confronted with tiny fists grasping crayons.
It also must be comfortable because sometimes, whether from exhaustion or emotion, sometimes you just need a place to lay your head down and cry.
Josh turns 40 this year, and I could think of no better gift to give him than…a dining room table.
Master carpenter Jim Sharer of Cherry Valley, NY worked on the restoration of The Beekman, replicating pieces of molding that exactly matched those that had been hand-crafted centuries ago. There was no better craftsman to turn to. Working with a giant red oak tree felled on his own farm, planks were hewn and then assembled and then sanded and smoothed and stained by my own hands.
The result is a modern version of an old farm table, a 600lb, 7 ft by 8 ft ebonized monument to everything we hold dear.
Like our relationship, it is steadfast and stridently sufficient. Far too large to move, once in place there it shall stay, marking our custodial turn at The Beekman long after we are gone, long after the teenagers and the vagabonds have returned and until someone, someday decides to use it for firewood.
What is YOUR dining room story?