Calhoun’s Can(n)ons, The Bay New, Morro Bay, for August 30, 06
The Summer Chair
I have always loved Adirondack Chairs. It’s not just their classic beauty and comfortable functionality that draws me, but the ghostly aura they carry of long ago summer afternoons spent under the towering maple trees at the summer cabin, the sound of laughter from the children playing at the edge of Loon Lake, the feel of sweet summer grass on bare feet, the scent of wisteria and always, white cotton dresses with yellow ribbons at the neck, perhaps a straw hat, the taste of lemonade.
Never mind that I’ve never lived near a lake with or without loons and the only white dress I owned was my Italian silk wedding dress which was long ago recycled at a thrift store, the Adirondack’s seductive false dream is still my own. I even have one as pride of place in my living room, a chair designed by a friend and crafted out of old 1940s shipping crates. It is extremely comfortable and, unlike my former couch, it has resisted being turned into Swiss cheese by a succession of Basenji puppies.
So when I saw the Adirondack on sale at the Ace Miners Hardware store, I was flooded with glorious images of sitting out in the back garden on lazy summer afternoons, the dogs lolling in the sand at my feet. All around me I would gaze up at the wild profusion of pink mallow blooms, heavy with bees, while the four o’clocks ran a riot of yellow, pink and white, a tumble of golden nasturtiums at their feet. I would read poetry, perhaps. And there would be lemonade.
There was only one slight impediment; the chair was Made in China and came in a box, some assembly required.
After I got my purchase home, I was soon overwhelmed by all the busyness of life, so the box sat in the garage for a few weeks until I finally found time to lay out all the pieces and realized that the screw points hadn’t been pre-drilled, which led me to discover that my old drill’s rechargeable battery was permanently dead, which meant a few weeks delay until I could get to the store only to find out that one new rechargeable battery alone would cost almost as much as a new drill that came complete with adjustable torque, variable speeds and two rechargeable batteries, so, even though it made economic sense to buy the new drill, I still had to wait a few weeks until the budget would allow for the extra cost.
Then, there was the matter of getting time to find more properly sized screws, followed a few days later by a search for a new drill bit since some of the bolt holes hadn’t been finished properly, and, of course, there was the matter of sanding and priming and should I paint the chair Hunter Green or go with the screaming yellow? What color chair pad should I look for? Did I need to think about an umbrella? Should I put a second coat on this week or next? And what about an end table, for the lemonade.
Then one morning I woke up with a start and sniffed the air. Unmistakably, fall had arrived. I walked glumly out into the yard. The mallow blooms were blown, the towering plants looking dusty, tired and ready for a winter sleep. The four o’clocks were falling over with wilted leaves, their flower heads shriveled to wizened fists filled with black seeds. Even the nasturtiums were a weary tangle of dried vines and bobble-headed pods.
Summer had gone while I was assembling my chair. There would be no lemonade, no bee-loud afternoons. I had frittered away the gold of time on the dross of busyness. The chair was done but so was summer.
Yet such is the Adirondack’s magic that in place of disappointment, I suddenly saw the chair in front of the fireplace, Christmas garlands festooning the mantle, the sound of carols. There would be candlelight and hot chocolate, a red velvet robe with a plaid bow at the neck, perhaps a sleepy rumble from one of the dogs, dreaming.
But first, I had to start my Christmas card list, then there was the matter of . . .