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.