My Kitchen Table

August 3, 2009 by  
Filed under Kitchen Table Space

This is a guest article from Janice Hunter. Thanks and welcome Janice!

My Kitchen by Janice Hunter (c)

My Kitchen by Janice Hunter (c)

The only difference between an extraordinary life and an ordinary one is the extraordinary pleasures you find in ordinary things

~Veronique Vienne~

If you were here right now, we’d be sitting at my kitchen table.

I’d serve you golden tea in a white teacup encircled with a hand painted garland of spring flowers, a gift from my best friend in Greece. My teapot’s plump and jolly and glazed a deep, cobalt blue. It dribbles a bit, but I’d never part with it; my husband and I bought it decades ago, when we furnished our first home together, a rented flat in Portugal.

If you prefer coffee, I’d find you a cheerful mug, big enough to wrap your hands around. The sugar’s in a tiny little preserve pot, with a ceramic spoon sticking out of its lid. The milk jug is pastel striped, flat bottomed and makes skimmed milk from a carton taste like it came straight from a farm smelling of cut hay and warm animals. I’d put out some biscuits on a couple of mismatched floral plates, the survivors of a life with children.

It’s a pine table, warm and mellow, sturdy and strong; it’s served us well. Every scar, scratch and dent is a memory. We bought it with money left to me by an uncle who had no children, and thought he’d be happy with how we spent his legacy.

At Easter we deck it out with blue and white checked linen and jugs full of posies: bright daffodils, dusky blue hyacinths, rainbows of tulips and delicate scented freesias. It spends Easter Day laden with hand painted bowls of red-dyed boiled eggs, jugs of wine and brightly coloured plates of aromatic roasts, Greek salads and mezedhes.

iStock Holiday TableOn Christmas day we drape it in forest green and red damask, lay it with golden charger plates and festive crockery, green and red hand-blown glass goblets, and napkins gathered up in glistening red, green and gold napkin rings. We eat by candlelight: tea lights flickering in green and red glass votives and tall elegant gold candles skirted with holly garlands and bright berries. It’s the highlight of my table’s year; laden with festive crackers and a hearty feast, I feel it soaking in all the love and laughter like a sigh.

Our table echoes with the laughter of all the children who have played here, grown up with elbows leaning on it as they’ve placed jigsaw pieces, rolled dice or thrown triumphant aces onto a pile of cards.

Albums full of children have crayoned here, handing me pictures of ants and flowers, monsters and princesses. So many snapshots of poised pencils and tongues stuck out in concentration over homework sums and holiday stories. Teenagers sharing angst and gossip over pizza, covering the table with trays of curling tongs, makeup bags and bottles of nail varnish, giggling with sleepover hysteria at the least wee thing.

This is where family and friends gather, and daily meals are lingered over. Breakfast is sleepily shared and every evening we gather together to unwrap the details of days we’ve loved or are glad to see the back of. Tempers have flared, rules have been broken, tears shed and fists banged down in frustration as hormones rage in torrents. But our table is patient.

I’ve lain my arm around friends’ shoulders as they’ve cried here, hands covering their faces as they share the horror of unfolding pain. My table has supported me silently, when, legs swept from under me, I’ve longed to let myself fall into a chasm of despair, dropping the phone that’s brought death to the kitchen.

My table is the centre of my home, the strongest symbol of the life I’ve built and the love that holds us all together.

Here is where I’m grounded, centred like a thrown clay pot spinning in stillness and taking shape on a potter’s wheel. I start my days here, laugh and cry here.

Here’s where I nourish my family, and feed my soul, writing about the heart-captured moments of bliss and despair, anxiety and triumph that make a life.

Here’s where I feel like one of my hand painted jugs, unique and cherished, full to the brim and overflowing with the love and inspiration I long to share; sometimes I sit quietly, sad and empty, watching the birds at my kitchen window, praying for guidance, hoping I’ll hear the answers when they come.

Here’s where I’m most content to simply be. It’s my haven, no matter where my journey takes me.

Welcome to my kitchen table.


More about our guest author:

Janice Hunter is a certified homelife coach and writer. She provides soul food and support for coaches, writers, parents and homebased workers over at www.sharingthejourney.co.uk

Comments

43 Responses to “My Kitchen Table”
  1. Marc says:

    I so want to sit at that kitchen table of yours Janice. (Or the bench in your garden.)

    Your words could paint a picture for a blind man.

  2. janice says:

    Thanks so much for being the first to pop over for a chat, Marc. I really appreciate it. I’m at the table with a laptop, but if you were here right now, I’d gladly click it shut and go and get those biscuits on a plate! Wales isn’t so far…come visit! (I make better coffee than tea, though!)

    Where’s your writing hub? Do you have the whole Welsh farmhouse kitchen bit, with the orphan lamb in front of the range?

  3. Marc says:

    I don’t drink coffee. Can’t abide the stuff.

    My home has a more French [i]maison[/i] feeling. My actual writing hub is in the spare room, the kitchen being the domain of the dog and two cats :)

  4. janice says:

    The drippy blue teapot it is, then!

  5. Vitania says:

    I absolutely love this read – and will copy and save it to read over and over – My mother’s kitchen table, is this place . And now, I am a young mother, and have found a table of my own, that in just a year, I promise I will never part with..

    Thank you for invinting me in, and for shairng this beautiul story!

    Vitania

  6. janice says:

    Lovely to meet you! I look forward to us swapping stories and ideas, here and at your place!

  7. Simply lovely. I want to come and sit at your table!

  8. Lovely post and table.

    Do you have more hand painted pitchers?

    TTFN~~ Claudia ♥ ♥

  9. teresa says:

    Beautiful pictures and beautifully said-
    Thanks

  10. janice says:

    Hi Gayle,
    I’m sitting smiling at my table right now, so in some ways you already are here! The Internet’s a wonderful way of making new friends and visiting new places. I’m going to check out that mountain photo and see if that’s the view from your home or if you’re from West Virginia. (I was a John Denver and Waltons fan growing up.) I appreciate you stopping by and hope you’ll check out some of the other posts here this month. It’s an inspiring magazine!

    Hi Claudia,
    I’m afraid the second picture’s as close as Karen, the editor, could get to the description of my Christmas table. I messed up with the photo of my own table because I’m not too sharp when it comes to jpegs and photo technical stuff. The photo above is of my favourite wee jug – you probably saw it in my post called the Empty Jug – but I have handpainted jugs and bits and pieces of Greek and Portuguese crockery in the cabinet right next to the table as I type!

    Hi Teresa,
    Thank you! It’s lovely to see familiar faces over here from my favourite communities. This has strengthened my resolve to learn how to take and upload better photos to accompany my pieces. I wish the green and red goblets on the Christmas table were mine! My husband and I bought ours years ago and twenty five Christmases have taken their toll. Luckily, I don’t mind mixing and matching within a colour scheme.

  11. karen says:

    “The extraordinary pleasure you find in ordinary things” - great quote to start off what looks to be a wonderful journey at your kitchen table, Janice!

    I wanted to say a huge and warm welcome to the ranks of writers here at The Calm Space. You’ve already made yourself at home, and we’re so thrilled to have you here.

    I’d love to pop in and have a cuppa (whatever you’re having – although I would love to try out that teapot), sit at your kitchen table, and talk about life, the universe and inconsequential women’s natterings… I’m sure I’d leave feeling refreshed, understood and full of joy.

    Now, to work out how to get easily from one side of the planet to the other… and in the meantime, I’ll visit here and enjoy your virtual company.

  12. janice says:

    Thank you, Karen, for giving me this great opportunity to meet new people. I love the whole concept of this magazine; the variety of ‘spaces’, the content, and the month we have to enjoy it . It feels like a retreat set in beautiful grounds.

    I’ll try and take some good photos of the drippy teapot and some crockery but as you know, when folk get talking at kitchen tables or in cafés – my other great love – the whole of life, love and the meaning of the universe gets covered!

  13. Cindy S says:

    That was such a beautiful post, the kitchen table is such an important part of our lives, isn’t it. Hugs ~cindy s~

  14. Fifi Flowers says:

    LOVE all the colour in that first photo… FAB!

  15. janice says:

    Hi Cindy,
    Thank you! You’re right. A treasured kitchen table is one of those symbols that can strengthen us if we tap into the very thought of it. Hearths and open fires do the same for some folk, too. I long to encourage everyone I meet to love everything with new eyes and expanded hearts. Identifying our most powerful symbols is a way we can all do it.

    Hi Fifi Flowers (I loved writing that!)
    Thanks! I took the photo during one of those photo sessions where everything just looked right. I ended up with dozens of photos of those same tulips and hyacinths, my jug and my curtains as the light kept changing and getting better and better. It was like meditation. The same tulips are also the banner for my own blog.

    I think you’d like my kitchen. It’s off-white, but those are the accent colours I use throughout to make it bright and welcoming – and a wee bit Mediterranean; I used to work in Greece and Portugal.

  16. amypalko says:

    What a beautifully written piece, Janice. I so enjoyed reading about your table, and would love to sit with you at the table with a nice hot cuppa while we have a good blether :-)
    Amy
    xx

  17. janice says:

    Thank you! I’m looking forward to that cuppa. We’ll make it happen one of these days. I may even make the kids laugh and try to bake.

  18. Lance says:

    It’s so great to be at your kitchen table today, Janice.

    What a beautiful picture you’ve painted of just what this space means to you – I feel that deep connection you have, and how this table holds memories of a lifetime.

    And it would be my honor to join you at that table, someday, for a cup of tea…

  19. Hi Janice,

    Congratulations on the new column and how I would love to sit at your kitchen table.

    It was not until I was in my thirties that I actually got a desk. For most of my life, I have done all my homework, writing, chatting and so on at a kitchen table. First it was my parents and then my own. When I got married, I got a desk for the first time. I never really wanted one but my husband convinced me and so I made the switch. However, whenever I talk to a friend or do any interview, it is always conducted from the kitchen table. There is something about a kitchen table that is grounding on some level.

    Thank you for sharing your kitchen table with all of us. :)

  20. Hilary says:

    Hi Janice .. wonderful description of your table, the mini novellas of life, your times abroad brining memories to those of us who have been lucky enough to have visited ..really lovely, truly memory bankable ..

    Great – love it ..
    Hilary Melton-Butcher
    Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

  21. Eliza says:

    Oh, I LOVE kitchen tables. And I can ‘see’ yours beautifully. Amazing how many memories revolve around tables, both childhood and adulthood.

    I am fortunate to have been raised in a family that believes all meals should be shared around a table. Not plated up and taken off to the TV or separate parts of the house. And I passed that along to my children.

    Interestingly, now that I live with Mr Very Right we have multiple tables. Each with their own purposes and memories. The long kitchen table for formal meals. The huge island for people to sit at as food is prepared, and for casual appetizer dining. The newly built bar alongside the hot tub, for socializing. The small cafe table tucked under a tree for romantic dining for two. And next year, Mr Very Right is building a HUGE outdoor table for formal outdoor dining, and he is embedding the tiles my grandparents collected on their world travels right into the table top.

    Sigh … so many memories. Thanks for taking me down this particular memory lane.

  22. Patricia says:

    I loved the kitchen table and did most of my studying there as a child. The dining table was way too formal, but it was my mum’s art gallery when she set the table for company and holiday events. (Her cooking was not the best, but her table was styling!)

    Your writing and witness to your table is a lovely read today and I can just feel the welcome and the heat of a cuppa tea and conversation.

    Thank you for referring me over here to enjoy this moment with you.

  23. janice says:

    @Lance,
    Thanks for visiting – same table, different website! If you ever make it as far as Scotland, you can check out all the dents and scratches over a cuppa or a glass of something stronger!

    @Nadia,
    Thank you! My table realy does ground me. Sometimes life flies past so quickly that I feel scared and dizzy, so it’s good to sometimes acknowledge any constants, even if they’re only objects or symbolic. If anything happens to this actual table, I know my memories of it will last a lifetime now because I’ve captured and appreciated its essence.

    @Hilary,
    I love how positively you describe my writing. I really would love to write a novella some day, and it’s support from people like you that gives me glimpses of hope. I’m glad this brought back memories for you of sunny places.

    @Eliza,
    I can visualise your outdoor space more intensely every time you describe it! I love the sound of that table you’re making – tables and ceramic tiles being twin obsessions of mine. We brought back a round, metal kafeneio table from Athens fifteen years ago; it’s just the right size for two grownups drinking wine!

    @Patricia,
    Thanks for popping over! It’s wonderful that you appreciate the creativity that your mum expressed in the way she styled the table. I’m not a very flamboyant cook, but I do have fun with my mismatched crockery collection! Every single one of our meals (except on pizza night and school hols) is eaten at the table when my husband comes home from work, although that’s getting a bit harder now; the kids are older and have a gazillion things on after school.

  24. Lori Hoeck says:

    You take the concept of breaking bread or offering a cup of tea to someone to new dimensions. What a wonderful description of home and shared lives you have woven!

  25. Brenda says:

    GREAT post, Janice. Your words paint such pretty pictures. Makes me want to write about my dining room. Remember when they were the largest room in the house? Mine is like that. It’s the hub of the house. All our stories get told here. Thanks for sharing this calm and lovely one.

  26. cindy platt says:

    Tables hold a lot of stories. Thank you for sharing the buffet of memories. Breaking bread and sipping refreshing and comforting drinks is what I anticipate throughout the hustle and bustle of a day in the life of loving a family and loving our work. Heartfelt words always keep the spirit calm. Sweet post.

  27. I love tea and I love your kitchen table. Cozy and friendly and warm and loving. Kind of like cookies fresh from the oven. :)

  28. Lovely!

    I’ll have coffee in that cheerful mug. :)

  29. Janice,
    how lovely to read about your beautiful kitchen table. I would sure like to sit at this table.
    Your haven is undoubtedly very calming.

  30. Oh Janice, Janice, Janice,

    Your kitchen table story is so vivid that I want to come over for coffee in that wrap-your-hand-around mug and talk and laugh and cry with you as we share our life stories, our joys and sorrows and adventures.

  31. Randi says:

    I first read this right before I took my trip to Wyoming, and was transported it seemed, to a faraway place, a place where children’s dreams and fairy tales all came true. It was a truly magical read.

    After I got back, a friend had a yard sale and told us we could have whatever we wanted, for free. In an old water-damaged cardboard box, rested a hand-painted set of yellow dishes and teacups, with huge beautiful blue flowers anchoring that yellow, keeping it from dancing gaily right off the pottery itself. I thought, “I wants my precious.”

    I stood there for a moment, trying to figure out why I wanted those dishes and tea cups so badly. I walked back to that box several times, each time ready to snatch it up before someone else did. What was the appeal? It was not a complete set, some of the dishes obviously having been broken before. In my wandering back and forth, I found the matching cream and sugar set in another box. I knew this set had to become my own.

    As I stood staring at the heavy bold yellow dishes and cups, I realized why I wanted them so badly. I was reminiscing. Not my memories. Janice’s memories. Memories so clearly painted in this post that I thought they were my own somehow, or would have liked them to be. Those dishes were a visual reminder of the magic I felt when reading this post.

    I turned and walked away, remembering my current “decluttering” project.

    Janice, you have a knack for taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary. There are few who can match your skill.

  32. Hi Janice,
    Cool space for writing! I wrote one of my best articles ever about our kitchen table. It was printed in the newspaper and was a big deal to me years ago.

    We kept the table our kids grew up with and it’s now in our cottage!

  33. Randi says:

    Tess: Do you still have it and can we read it?

  34. janice says:

    To Lori, Brenda, Cindy, Hayden, Vered, Zeenat , Cheryl, Randi and Tess,

    Before I respond to all of you individually, I just wanted to thank you all for popping over and apologise for not replying sooner. I haven’t been too well and in order to be able to give the kids the support they’ve needed in their first week back at school, my body told me to alternate rest with gentle, engaged activities like cooking. My spirit told me to simply switch off the computer and log back on when I felt rested and refreshed.

    It was lovely to find you all here when I logged on! I would love to be able to invite every one of you – and those who commented previously – to sit down and have a blether at my table!

    @ Lori,
    Thank you! Karen’s created such a lovely space here, this piece just felt at home and flowed out.

    @ Brenda,
    Thanks! I hope you do write that piece about your dining room. Wherever the ‘talking table’ is, that’s where the love and memories get created.

    @Cindy,
    You’re so right. if more families could look forward to a loving connection at meal times and snack times, we’d all be living in different times.

    @Hayden,
    That’s such a lovely comparison – thank you! If you’d ever tasted my baking, you’d know I write a better cookie than I bake! My chocolate chip cookies and carrot cakes are edible, but my husband’s choc chip cookies warm from the oven are heavenly!

    @ Vered,
    I know you’re not flying much these days and probably won’t be able to visit for real coffee, but I enjoy meeting you weekly for our cyber chats so we could easily slip in a cyber coffee as well!

    @Zeenat,
    Thank you! My life’s work since meeting my husband and having kids has been to make our home a haven. Now that both kids are at high shool, I need to work on keeping it calm!

    @Cheryl,
    Bless you! Some day I hope we can sit down at a table somewhere and swap life stories. Writing and sharing makes sense of the pain as well as the joy.

    @Randi,
    You had me hooked right til the end! I’m so proud of you for focusing on your dream of simplicity and serenity in the face of such soul temptation! (I’d have probably made you buy the set then ran away cackling! ;) ) Badhomelife coach friend!

    @Tess,
    Having seen and read about your gorgeous painted chairs, it doesn’t surprise me that there’s a ‘published’ table to go with them! Like Randi, I’d love if you could post your table article on your blog (or mine as a guestie?!) some day.

  35. Patricia says:

    Hope you are feeling better – loved listening to Rhydian Roberts sing – that Welsh man was definitely born to sing!

  36. Chris Owen says:

    Janice
    what a fool I’ve been!
    I’ve been too busy this month to come back and forth to read all the other spaces here at Calm Space. Normally I have ‘em all read by the end of the first week.
    And what have I missed? Just a wonderful raucous chat of many voices around the kitchen table. The ONLY place anyone should ever contemplate chatting!
    But more to the point, I missed another Scot bringing heart-warming words to our world with vivid word pictures that made me reach out for the warmth of the mug and to wipe away the dribble from the pot and surreptitiously lick my finger!!!!
    Welcome Welcome Welcome!!
    And (Sigh) here’s another Scot with more writing talent in her little finger than I will ever summon! Bravo and heartfelt congratulations.
    Loved all the visitors you brought with you too!

  37. janice says:

    @ Patricia,
    Thank you. I’ve had days of feeling better, but because of my obsessive nature, I’ve overdone things and set myself back. (I tend to ‘nest’ at this time of year.) So today’s strictly a repond to comments day and I’ll be logging on with a timer later this week.

    @Chris,
    Thank you for the lovely welcome! I’m in the same boat as you. I had every intention of pacing myself and taking a month to read all the other spaces but then I got ill and overwhelmed and self-prescribed a few weeks of logging off to rest and take stock. But what I love about The Calm Space is that no-one who writes in any of the spaces here would expect me to do anything else; extreme self care is what this ‘magazine is all about. Hope we can chat here or at your place when I’m back on an even keel. You do write well and your space is full of bold advice and wisdom. I think you’ll enjoy some of the sites belonging to the wonderful people who popped over to support my first venture here.

  38. Connie Frey says:

    Well, well, well ~ in the deep sense of deep source, healthy nourishment and vital living, Janice!

    Though I’ve known you for many years, visiting your table today, the panoply of happenings there and spacious living around your steady pine kitchen center stokes up my sense of intimacy with your life WELL lived.

    Thank you so much!

  39. janice says:

    You’re very welcome, Connie. I’ve sent you many an email while sitting at this battered lump of pine and it’s also where I sat and edited your section of our ebook.

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