(c) Chelsea Beresford
It was a cold day, but the shop would warm up soon. Breaking wood into kindling, Charlie bent down in front of the woodstove. The snow danced on the wind. Charlie lit the fire. Christmas was coming. Today’s project was a picture frame. Looking about the shop Charlie spied a piece of hickory. The dark grain seemed to shine on the light background. This piece was perfect. Charlie set the wood on the workbench.
The fire was ready for a log or two. Charlie added split and dried cherry from a tree that died last spring. Taking the hickory to the router table, Charlie cut tiny slits for the glass, picture, and backing. Taking a planer from its hook Charlie shaved away irregularities. Paper-thin curls gathered on the floor. The wood gleamed as it became smoother than fine sand paper could ever get it.
The shop was warm now. At the miter saw Charlie cut the hickory to length. Testing the size, Charlie took a snapshot from the inside pocket of a worn jacket, placing it inside the frame. Pausing, Charlie remembered the day it was taken. It was early June. Taken before Charlie’s parents had moved away, it was the only complete family picture in ten years.
Charlie added a log to the fire. With lacquer and brush, a smooth layer finished the piece. The strong liquid brought out complexities in the grain that were hidden before. Charlie opened a window then set the frame beside the stove to dry.
In the morning, the snow crunched as it resisted Charlie’s footsteps. The shop was cold, but the frame now only needed assembling. With simple brown paper, Charlie wrapped the frame, adding a twine bow. “Love Charlie” was written in the corner.
Charlie entered the restaurant at lunchtime. Drinks were ordered, and Charlie looked from mother to father. Knowing this look her mother said, “Don’t tell me you made us another present. We’re going to need a bigger house just to accommodate your little hobbies.”
“No, not this year. No time,” replied Charlie. The frame and picture wrapped in brown paper and twine stayed in her jacket.
The next morning Charlie struggled on her way out to the shop. The morning was bitter cold. She broke the frame into kindling, put the picture in her pocket and the wood into the woodstove. It was a cold day, but the shop would warm up soon.
Chelsea Beresford is a college student/former carpenter living in Asheville, North Carolina.