Home - Dining Room

January 18th, 2009

The dining room is the second most treacherous room to navigate when running in a circle around the first floor. (The most treacherous is the parental bedchamber, but the obstacles there have to do with complicated permissions, rather than physical hurdles.)

The sheetrock ceiling and narrow strips of wood on the floor are reminders that it’s a work in progress, mid-way through a planned renovation. A dramatic triangle-shaped bay window offsets the side door and provides a perfect tiny seat with a great view of the driveway, and all the trees in the side yard. The centerpiece of the room is a big round wooden table that is, perhaps, the last place that we all ate together at the same dining table. We don’t like to interrupt its clean lines with chairs, so we keep them folded up in the sun porch. The table started out a dark brown, and the cracks between the planks were filled with the mysteries of the ages: glue that had split, creating cracks that curved and shivered like mini-ravines cutting through rock. Later the table went back to its natural wood color on top, and became blue on the bottom. More light, but less mystery.

When entering the dining room from the living room, there’s a narrow transition bordered on the left by a library bench. A small wooden seat forms the base of the bench, and in the center is a little wooden square on hinges that opens to reveal a perfect cube of storage, or a perfect hiding space before one is unfortunate enough to outgrow its confines. Towering above the bench are ceiling-height shelves that hold a magnificent collection of unreadable grown-up books. They are unreadable because of their adult content (The Clan of the Cave Bear), because of their age (the encyclopedia that we keep for sentimental value and for pressing flowers, but which is riddled with historical and scientific inaccuracies), and because of positioning (some are wedged in so tightly that to disrupt the delicate physics would cause a catastrophic avalanche of paper and dust; they might never even find the kid buried underneath. One is advised to run on tiptoes past the library bench, lest the tremors caused by pounding feet dislodge one of the piles.

To the right, opposite the library bench, is a telephone table which is actually an antique dresser. It looks simple enough, but telephone cords sometimes become unruly – especially when the phone has recently been transported into the living room in search of more comfortable seating – and sometimes crisscross the floor like subversive snakes, just waiting to coil around unwary feet.

Past the transition, one enters the dining room proper. There’s a dog that lives on a chain to the right, near the side door, but she is almost always good natured, and the challenge has mostly to do with trying to avoid frightening her. More imposing than the dog is the antique hutch, over to the left, which is filled with antique dishes. They’re covered with large purple grapes that you can actually feel on the surface of the glass, and match a set of dark green glass goblets that look like they came out of a medieval fairy tale. We get to use them sometimes at Christmas, but the rest of the year they stay in the hutch and rattle ominously whenever someone runs past. They make sounds that are downright crunchy if one miscalculates the corner and accidentally runs into the hutch. Fortunately, the giant pickle crock on one side (more hiding space), and a woodpile on the other, act as buffers

The final obstacle is the potbellied wood burning stove in the far corner. Unlike the library shelf, or the hutch, we are unlikely to do any damage to the potbellied stove if we run into it. And, during late spring, summer, and early fall the stove is unused and so we can run into it all we like. But it’s risky to allow the fear of direct contact between skin and cast iron to erode, because for the other six months of the year, it provides the only heat in the house and is, thus, a blazing hot inferno. It’s best to give it a wide berth.

Entry Filed under: Home