Sunday, September 16, 2012

Old Growth Furniture

This is the last major embellishment to our living room, a coffee table which is actually an 18-inch section from the trunk of an ancient juniper that lived and died a couple of miles from here.

A guy named Mike Free out on Highway 70 near the racetrack had the trunk in the yard next to his workshop. He'd recently sold a section to somebody else who put a glass top on it for a dining room table, so he was willing to give us a discount on what was left.

We were already good customers. Mike made our fireplace mantle, a polished quarter-cut pine log. And we also bought one of his heavy pine benches, which now sits outside the mountain-facing end of the house with one of those metal fire pits in front of it.

But the table is one of a kind. You can see where Mike sprinkled some turquoise pellets into a flaw on the top before he applied the half dozen or so coats of urethane to protect the finish and make the thing shine. It weighs at least 300 pounds.

I asked him how long the tree had lived, and he told me that judging from the rings he thought it could be 1,000 years old.

Mike is proudly cajun, a lifelong outdoorsman and hunter who has always made his living with his hands. Between his manly simplicity and his straightforward way of talking, it's hard to doubt anything he says about anything having to do with nature.

We asked him where we could go to hear elk bugling the way they do on the Internet sites. He guaranteed that if we drove up the mountain to mile marker 6 at sunset, we'd hear a lot of them. We went up there just where he said and didn't hear anything.

So maybe the juniper that made our coffee table didn't live 1,000 years. But it was definitely very very old.

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