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.