Maine sign with lighthouse

The Beginning

It all started with a bright blue picnic table at the family camp on the ocean in Gouldsboro, Maine. The table had held hundreds of my relatives over the years as they cracked fresh crabs and retold old stories. After many decades, repairs, and repaints, the time came when the table was no longer safe to sit at. It would be sacrificed to the bonfire gods that weekend. That just struck me as heartbreaking. Hundred-year-old relatives had fed the first bites of lobster to their babies and grandbabies on it. Countless gooey marshmallows sticks were laid on it while campfire songs were sung around it. Thousands of sunsets were shared by distant cousins reconnecting over cocktails while gathered at it.  All that history and it would just be destroyed? I convinced them to let me take it home instead.

With no prior history of power tool use, I watched countless Youtube videos and taught myself some basic but necessary skills. I cut away the rotted ends, sanded off the rough spots and chopped it down to sturdy smaller pieces. Then I made my first sate of Maine sign. I kept the blue weather worn chippy paint and used one of the old bolts to mark the camps location on the coast of Gouldsboro. I brought it back up to the camp and hung it on the hundred-year-old wall by the family tree. It is a treasured piece still, one that preserves the history of the family that came there before us and the beauty of the traditions they left as a legacy.

Maybe I romanticize it all,  but I see stories in the discarded wood I find. Old pine flooring makes me think of chubby baby feet taking first steps, worn walls bring thoughts of family laughter and holiday gatherings, fences with etched writing brings a glimpse of lovers first moments together. It always seems a shame to just discard the history and the memories. I want it to go on. I want the piece to become part of someone else’s story and continue gathering memories. By putting customized words on each one, I feel like I am somehow connecting the old life and the new life and giving each piece a fresh place in history.