Sunday, July 26, 2009

Gift

There is a moment of tension as the sharp edge of the blade pushes through the skin into the soft heart of the ripe, red tomato. Snapt, a soft rap on the cutting board below follows each slice. Resting in their fragrant juice, they wait patiently letting the anticipation build. Mayonnaise spreads, making a bed for them to lay on, to seal in the goodness of summer.

Laying the green plate in front of my great uncle, he smiles then pushes his gums through the sandwich and stares out the screen porch to the concrete bird bath under the old rigid bark of the walnut tree. Sometimes he talks, others he just stares into the memories. Rinsing the plate of crumbs, we retire to the old wooden shop, gasoline and sawdust on the air.

The oily grey metal pull chain dances, tinkling against the lone bulb swaying from the rafters, illuminating the scarred tables of his workbench. Strong wizened fingers push pale boards passed ancient spinning blades, before chisel and lathe take their turn. Shunkt, the wood pegs slide firmly into meticulously carved grooves, together giving form.

Rich colors blossom as oil and polish are massaged into the exposed pores of the timber, adding tang to the perfumed breeze. Hammer rings on the steel pegs, adding the finishing touch, initials LPM, to the bottom of the furniture.

A tree became a board became a small round table that stands on three legs at the base of its pedestal by the side of my couch. Running your fingers across its smooth surface, you feel the thought that went into its creation. Almost like that first bite of a tomato sandwich.

Small things forgotten in the grand scheme of a life filled with big screen televisions, sleek cars, computers, exquisit meals, designer clothes, shiny steel appliances, clean running water, soft mattresses...the list could go on, and on, and on.... I have seen greater joy in the eyes of those that have far less. Everything we have is a gift, we recieved, we can give.

41 comments:

Travel & Dive Girl said...

Beautiful post. I love the comparison to the tomato sandwich. Life is full of the little things that are under-appreciated - including life itself.

Brian Miller said...

@travel - sometimes i have to have a little reminder. life is a gift, we can choose to live it, or...

Brad said...

great post Brian, how is the book coming along and how was FL?

The Retired One said...

Awesome!

otin said...

I can truly say that I think that I take very little for granted, We did not have a lot growing up, and I have worked very hard my entire life, I have never averaged less than a 50 hour week. I like comforts but could live without those things. Your posts always get me to ponder things, I enjoy that!

willow said...

This reminds me of my childhood and Mr. Tinkle's shed! I remember well the smell of gasoline and old metal.

only a movie said...

Just gorgeous writing.

Brian Miller said...

@brad - working on it. actually both of them. still in FL. fly back tomorrow. going well, we'll see...

@retired one - smiles.

@otin - simplicity is tough at times, but i have an affinity for it. thanks man, i live to make people think. smiles.

@willow - yeah, i watched my great uncle as a young teen after his wife passed. every day he would want tomato sandwiches and to work in the shop. i had a chair he wove at one point as well but can't remember where it went. my son Logan has the same intials so he likes to think of it as his table.

@only - ty.

lakeviewer said...

Ah, wistful and philosophical on hot summer days when tomatoes are waiting to be gummed.

TechnoBabe said...

Just thinking of the talent and love and caresses that are built into that table makes me smile.

Ronda Laveen said...

I could smell that shop...and the tomatos. Mmmm.

Kay said...

so true, so true...what a great reminder! :)

Rose Marie Raccioppi said...

"A tree became ..." I have a reverent love for trees, the tree itself in all its life, in all its mighty strength and determination. I am duly taken by the texture, the grain, the color, the relative hardness, the myriad of ways a tree is transformed and so your table is indeed a shared treasure!

My home has unpainted, walnut oiled natural wood trim, doors, moldings, and flooring. I am ever in tribute to the glory and the giving of trees.

Thank you for a beautifully written post.

An Open Heart said...

I feel unworthy to even comment...your writing is, well, simply beautiful...just as the beauty of that table your Uncle made, no doubt, pure artistry.
S

Megan said...

I love tomato sandwiches. It's late here, but I'm going to go make a little one, anyway!

GypsyFox said...

Wow what a wonderful post, your description of things, feelings..etc is just immensely incredible!

John said...

Brian.
That was wel written.I to could smell the tomatoe sandwhich.My Sister loved them with mayo on the bread.Sge passed away May 4th 1998 6 months after my other Suster having aheary attack.Neither one lived to see 40.God has really been there to comfort me.Wow powerful entry.I hope to find outmore about you book.I read Brads post to you.
GOD bLESS you

Candie Bracci said...

Beautiful post and true too.

Baino said...

OH Brian, you're getting so good at this emotive writing. Life is indeed a gift and I rarely post about the little things that thrill me. Tomato sandiwiches with loads of pepper and watching my dad weed, bum up - head down. I wrote his obituary about his hands. They were amazing. Thanks chief . .you bring balance back to my crazy existance.

Abe Lincoln said...

Interesting post. I came over from Willow's place.

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Goofball said...

in high school an economics teacher once told me "everything is economics" ....true as everything has been produced/created .

but how much nicer is life if we look at it "everything is a gift". what a relief that thought is.

Dot-Com said...

It's the little things that matter, but we often seem to forget. Reminded me of the song "The Gift" - putting a few rays of sunshine in a bottle :-)

Daniel said...

Nice parallels between the humble sandwich and the table. You have a wonderful sense of life and how to live it and to appreciate the people and things around you. If you can bottle this sense, I'll take a couple of orders.

Wings said...

Another good post to help us remember the little things. They are important, too. :)

Mom said...

You managed to bring tears to your moms eyes this morning. Lawrence would be so pleased that the little boy that visited his shop shows such love through his writing and still having the round table in your living room. Thanks again for taking me back to special days.

Vodka Mom said...

that was so beautiful, by word and by thought.


xoxox

Lorraine said...

Simplicity, beauty, heart-warming story, the type of writing that belongs to a well-loved Author, you must write, books preferably so that more people can be touched by your kind heart and soothing words :)
and yes it's a gift ;)

Fragrant Liar said...

Lovely and touching and a great reminder to appreciate what we have right here, right now, with the people we love.

Lady Mama said...

Love the imagery in your words.

Kate Hanley said...

I love how this post complements the one before it. We each are a gift, unique to the world. Very nicely done.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

We take far too much for granted in our lives. There is an abundance of thought which should be appreciated. The thought that has gone into this post is very much appreciated.

CJ xx

French Fancy said...

you are a naturally gifted writer - it's been a pleasure.

tony said...

We Must Always Strive To Preserve & Remember The Important Details of a Life.Who needs a HD Television when youve got a clean window with a good view.

Madame DeFarge said...

Wonderful writing. I am envious of your talent with words. And your ability to describe tomatoes. I tend to stick to 'red'. I have no imagination.

Betsy said...

Sounds like you have a beautiful piece with memories to go with...

Pastor Sharon said...

Brian, this is lovely! How wonderful the simple things are in life, providing us with memories, stories and wisdom to grow on. This can never be replaced with the upgrades our generations have moved onto.

Joanna Jenkins said...

I don't know how you do it Brian! Another GREAT post.
Thank you.

ellen abbott said...

I like this Brian. I'm there. I can smell it, hear it, see it.

Thanks for visiting my blog today.

Verily I go. said...

I smell tomatoe in there too. I feel that oil in this shop. Awesome Brian..so way cool. My first tomatoe sandwich ever in my whole life, right here in Florida. 1998. You are a gift too. Thank you.

secret agent woman said...

I have four tomato planst right outside my back door. When ther are plum tomatoes that have reached the perfect shade of red, I am unable to reisst popping themdirectly into my mouth. That warm, lightly dusty taste is a pure joy.

Mariana Soffer said...

Important things are in the details, people tend to forget.
Anyway the american way of life regarding material things is hard to belive, is like their worship god by buying material stuff