I have reached my wooden stage of life. Perhaps it was a connection I made with the forests while hiking the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island this summer or perhaps it stems from the feeling of my new studio/living space, but I am enjoying the idea of wood products in a new way that would have been unimaginable even a year before. Reflecting on my time in Toronto, I can see a transition from earth/stone to sky/metals to forest/woods in the way that I furnish my surroundings and the places I dwell in my imagination.
My new studio at The Brock Lofts is an odd place. Unlike Tip Top, this unit has only one small window, but two large skylights. The flooring is maple hardwood and the ceiling is exposed lumber. It feels warm and safe. If I want a view, then I only need to escape into the outside or the rooftop terrace. It is a place where nice lights will make a difference.
The physical move may kill me. Despite my best efforts to avoid life’s clutter and “stuff” I seem to have too much, and given the weight of my granite desk (the one item I am keeping from my earth stage), I have had to procure movers to ensure my back does not break. Perhaps I should have known better when I wrenched my shoulder carrying a carefully planed table top up the flight of stairs.
Still, I have two weeks to slowly move over my delicate items and I just have to accept that I can only do so much – not so easy to accept for a man who never seems to stop moving.
My partner and I spent the day yesterday planing a table top that her father made many years ago to stand as a centre piece in our space, and I also sanded down two night side tables we found in the trash at the curb. The act of reclaiming pieces from becoming waste was satisfying; reclaiming wood instead of being artificially reclaimed wood from a store felt like I might have saved one tree from careless destruction.
The nightstand was made by Kroehler from solid oak (top, pillars) and oak pressed chippings with a thick oak veneer. The drawer seems to be maple. It was ugly, stained in a bad 1980’s walnut colour, and had seen better days. But with a careful sanding with a JobMate, new knobs from Restoration Hardware and a coating of mineral oil to keep the piece solid, I now have what would cost $1000 at Restoration Hardware: total cost $35.
I also have a rather unique Art-Deco dresser that my father had before his death coming through shippers in the next month. It will require a bit of light cleaning and drawer knob replacement, but heavy sanding will not occur as its patina is one feature that I love about it.
At the centre of it all is transformation: if one is connected with the world around us, then I believe that all transitions bring about great opportunities despite the hardships. This year has been marked by the deaths of our two fathers, but the rebirth of family and a newfound connection with ideas of community and beauty. So while some days leave me wishing that I could simply hide under the covers and let the day pass, I know that the only way out is through and that pain, exhaustion and fear force us forward to seek out comfort, rest and hope. As September begins, let us hope to find the best moments whispered through the changing leaves and cool, Fall air.