The storm from Alaska brought a windy, drenching end to the long pleasant autumn.
Knowing the fine days were ending, and fearing an eminent fall of leaves from the catalpa tree in front of the shop, Ed moved swiftly to get the finish on a project for friends. His shop is too small and cramped for finishing anything other than small hand items.
Several years ago the catalpa tree shed all of its leaves in one day. There had been a hard, deep freeze during a mid-October night when the tree was still in full leaf. The following morning a few leaves began to drop then suddenly they poured down so fast we both rushed outside at the sound of the stems and leaves hitting the porch roof and ground. The air was filled with leaves. By nightfall not one leaf was left on a branch. It was the oddest thing that has not yet been repeated. After a frost on Tuesday and Wednesday nights with the thermometer dipping slightly below 30 the tree was bound to loosen its leaves. The friends do not want leaf imprinted finish on their furniture.
Meanwhile, I was in the kitchen making and baking a pie for a birthday supper that evening before heading into the office.
Tarp set up, work space set up, generator running and the sun warming the air, Ed commenced brandishing the spray gun then setting each drawer in turn on the ladder to dry.
When we were decades younger Ed was a professional furniture refinisher. He took great pride in carefully, yet quickly applied layers of finish without drips or puddling. I enjoyed watching him deftly spray a thin even coat. There’s something about watching a master plying his craft: economy of motion and materials, a sure hand and eye and the conveyance of the joy of doing.
Quilted maple for the drawer fronts was harvested and milled by a local farmer.
The pie was cooling.
I drove home through the wind and rain from music practice this evening, tires crushing shiny leaves obscuring the road.