The Return

Another thing I achieved yesterday was finally getting round to scrubbing and sanding down my old kauri chopping board. This chopping board has a bit of history. It began life as a wooden sink-bench in the old Eventide Home in Dunedin (I haven’t been able to figure out exactly when the Home was built, but I’ve found references in Papers Past to the buildings being converted into a Health Camp in the 1930s, which sounds like they’d already been around for a while by then).  My uncle was working there when they were upgrading that part of the Home, recognised the wood as kauri (which isn’t easily obtainable these days, kauri being a protected species and no longer logged) and managed to snag a length of it, which he turned into a chopping board for me for my 21st birthday.
Three years later I left NZ for my big OE.  I sold or gave away most of my possessions, but left a few special things, the kauri chopping board included, with my parents for safekeeping until I returned.  Which didn’t happen for another four and a half years, by which time they’d divorced, Mum had remarried, and both had moved house multiple times.  And nobody had any idea where my chopping board had ended up.  So I assumed it had got lost in a move somewhere, and the kauri chopping board became one of those legendary “I had a cool thing once” sort of things. With an added tinge of sadness because the old Home (which I worked in myself, in a summer job when I was a student) has since been demolished to make way for a housing development.
But then a couple of months ago my uncle was helping Mum clean out her attic, and found the chopping board!  It was pretty dirty and grimy, having been sitting up there for about 20 years, but (being kauri, which has a really fine grain) the wood hadn’t warped at all.  So Mum sent it up to me, and it’s been sitting here waiting for me to get round to cleaning it up and restoring it to chopping board status.  Which I finally started doing yesterday, giving it a really good scrub to remove most of the grime, and then a sanding to remove a couple of wee patches of mildew that the cleaning hadn’t totally removed, then a coat of linseed oil to bring back its wonderful golden colour.  It still needs a few more coats of oil to completely finish it off, but it’s already starting to look like the chopping board I remember.
So after all these years, I’ve got my 21st present back, and a cool little bit of Dunedin history sitting in my kitchen. Hopefully I’ll manage to hold on to it for more than a couple of years this time!

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