A front row seat

I missed my chair. For six summers I sat in that Adirondack chair beneath the front yard’s silver maple to take notes on my garden, my notebook supported by its wide, flat arm. Hummingbirds whizzed past my head on a beeline to the Malvaviscus, while swallowtails danced among the phloxes and dangled from the ballooning joe-pye weed. In the evenings, after weeding and watering, I’d cool off there, watching the chimney swifts trade places in the darkening sky with crazily darting bats. Sometimes I’d hear the hoot of an owl and see it sail overhead, silent as its own shadow. Lightning bugs drifted skyward from the lawn, and crickets cranked up their nightly serenade. My chair was a haven for contemplation and repose, a spot where I could feel as much a part of nature as the neighbor’s cat, who crouched and sprang here and there around the yard, pursuing prey that only he could see.

Oh, it wasn’t a real Adirondack chair—just a discount store’s $5 dark green resin facsimile, feather light and impervious to termites, rust, and rot. It had aged attractively, becoming silvered by the sun and encrusted with lichens. To me it was an object of charm and beauty. With its low-slung design, it fit perfectly into the undulant slant of our hillside yard without the tricky leveling modifications any other style of bench or chair would have required. I drilled holes in its feet and pegged it to the ground with tent stakes and landscape staples to keep it from blowing away in gales. Once during its tenure our good samaritan neighbor kindly took it upon himself to cut our grass while our mower was in the shop. Imagine his bewilderment when he found himself unable to lift this flimsy plastic obstacle!

Resident robins and mockingbirds liked the chair as much as I did, taking advantage of the panoramic view of the yard offered by its high, gracefully arched back. I’d have gladly shared it had they not left their untidy calling cards in such generous abundance. We achieved compromise when I constructed a trellis immediately behind and just a tad higher than the chair, giving the yard’s feathered co-owners a superior vantage point.

Then one fateful night last fall a fierce storm arose. It ripped one huge, near-vertical limb from the maple’s trunk and tossed it across the yard to the street, felling the mailbox. Another branch speared the roof, emerging through the eave. And a third crashed straight down onto my precious chair, splintering it into a thousand jagged shards I’m still finding all over the yard.

We set the mailbox back up. A man came and fixed the roof. But I grieved for my chair.

Finally last spring I went to a discount store and bought another green plastic Adirondack chair—$12.99 this time. Because I happen to be going through a “purple period,” I painted this one purple, a serendipitous match for the cloud of lunaria that blooms around the tree in spring and for the lavender floral spikes and rosy stems of the Malabar spinach that twines the trellis in summer and fall. Now when I pull up in the driveway, my heart rejoices at the sight of my glorious new chair, resplendent in its proud purpleness. When I collapse between its welcoming arms, I fancy myself royalty, queen of all I survey. Paradise regained!

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