Slice of Life Tuesday: Searching for furniture…and discovering stories

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Join the Tuesday Slice of Life community at Two Writing Teachers!

I’ve been on a quest for furniture that will look at home in a farmhouse in upstate New York, a farmhouse which we will finally be able to call our own on Wednesday.  That quest has taken me to tag sales, and antique barns, where I’ve sifted through piles of this and that until something just right catches my eye- something that’s just a bit worn, of some age, with lots of character.  In the process, I discovered Craig’s List, which is a wonderful, ever changing catalog of piles of this and that, too.  And, i searching for furniture, I’ve been unwrapping stories: long ago stories, just-the-other-day stories, some well remembered and some just vaguely so.

I love arriving to examine a table or mirror, and then learning the story behind it – who built it, why, and how it was used.

I love the way people light up with smiles and warmth when they know you are listening, helping them hold on to their memories even as they part with a chair from Grandma’s house on the Jersey shore, or the table that always sat on their parent’s porch – the one with the chocolate brown Bakelite Philco radio.

I love leaving a driveway with a piece of history tucked away in the trunk,  a chair that will grace our new porch and look out on new views, even as it remains a living archive of other views, a repository of other memories.

My favorite will always be a pair of bent wood Adirondack chairs, purchased from a lovely woman, a poet, who was moving out to California and wished to shed her “east coast stuff”.  I admired them as we made our way to the book case (built in a Vermont town about 15 minutes from our farm) I had come to purchase, and she mentioned that they were bought for a farm they had once owned, “in a tiny upstate New York town you’ve never heard of.”

“Oh?” I said, “where? we just bought a farm upstate, too.”

“West Hebron”, she replied, gesturing towards a beautiful watercolor of a lovely white farmhouse, with blue shutters and a wraparound porch.

That, of course, is exactly where our farm is located, as well. Small world.  So there we stood for a few moments, in a living room in Mahwah, New Jersey – she knew where I was going, I knew where she had been.  “Those chairs have got to go home,” she suggested, and who was I to argue?

So, on Friday, they will journey back to West Hebron, to sit on a porch overlooking the Black Creek Valley, Green Mountains and Adirondacks once again.  A piece of connected, living history.

adirondack chair


34 thoughts on “Slice of Life Tuesday: Searching for furniture…and discovering stories

  1. This whole post made me so happy. I got chills over the chairs. That stuff happens to me all the time. I feel like you’ve got to be open to listening for the connections that are all around you. I’m super excited to see what your house is going to look like.

  2. What amazing finds and great stories. You are just the right one to find the stories along with the furniture. We bought our dining room table from a woman who was downsizing, but her family was once big and ate together at this table. It even has a stain in the middle to add character. It was originally built in our town. A piece of history, a piece of family. Stories live on.

  3. Beautiful stories collected, Tara. I love that you are returning those chairs home. This sounds like a good idea for a book started for your new home. Exciting that you will finally close Wednesday. Does this mean a new job, too?

  4. I have often thought that if walls and furniture could talk the stories they would tell. Enjoy your new acquisitions. May they have many new stories to tell.

  5. Beautiful writing. This line is so powerful “I love the way people light up with smiles and warmth when they know you are listening”. Thank you for sharing this moment with us.

  6. That’s just the feeling and connection I wanted when we sold/gave away (and in many cases, kept) my mother’s things after she passed away. Some of them did find new homes with that kind of connections, and it makes me feel happy when I think about them.

  7. More and more I see how stories connect and define us! I love that as your new stories start at the farm, other stories are continuing through the furniture you place there. Lovely!

  8. That made me teary-eyed! Because I’m in the process of selling our house, and relocating to our lake-view condo, these stories especially touch me now. Some pieces of furniture really are special – especially when they have a few nicks and bruises. I love that the beautiful chair found its way back home!

  9. So fun to read this post, and and to see the chair that’s headed home tomorrow. “Sifting through piles of this and that,” and ” “unwrapping stories.” What a delightful way to begin your summer! Enjoy reading in those chairs on the porch!

  10. What an amazing home you will assemble with the bits and pieces and stories to tie them together! I am a big believer of serendipity and those chairs were meant for you. A new entry has been added to my bucket list: sit on Tara’s porch in an Adirondack chair. 🙂

  11. I love your whole sentence about unwrapping stories- so beautifully crafted. Love this Slice! And so excited for your Farmhouse that is waiting to be yours tomorrow!

  12. It’s so nice to learn the stories behind the furniture and treasures. It will be wonderful to be able to share these stories to all who visit. Congrats on closing and moving into your new home.

  13. I love knowing the history of things passed down. And I love connections, like with the chair. You should print off the story and make sure it stays with the chair for the future!

  14. Tara, I love the story of your treasure hunting and how you happened upon these chairs. It’s as if they were there just waiting for you to find them and bring them home. I’m looking forward to reading all the writing you’ll do on that beautiful porch!

  15. Yeah! This post inspires me to listen more closely to the people and objects around me to hear their stories. Beautiful synchronicity. (And I love fantasizing about your porch!)

  16. Wow–I love this story of the chairs. Also, I love how there is a comment about you writing a picture book about these chairs. I think of Patricia Polacco and Mem Fox, and I think of how “things” have such meaning. I love that you were already searching for meaning in things and how the chairs showed more meaning than you could dream of. I wonder what stories these chairs will carry into your life at the farmhouse. How amazing.

  17. oh, I just love this post! one of my favorite parts is “I love leaving a driveway with a piece of history tucked away in the trunk, a chair that will grace our new porch and look out on new views, even as it remains a living archive of other views, a repository of other memories.”
    Just beautiful!

  18. Wow. What a story in those chairs, but also what a well-crafted story you have told about finding them. And bringing them Home.

  19. The stories about your farm (I have read a couple of the books, by the way) are so fun. And I love the stories connected with the furniture. I want to sit on that porch someday…

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