The Way I See It: A chair that tells the story

We are opening up our cottage and as I do every year I assess what stays and what goes; I like to improve, adjust, change our cottage every year. Some years the changes or improvements are more dramatic than others, tweaking vs overhaul.

There is the “chair” — the green chair, captain’s chair, antique chair, story- of-my-life chair. It will stay this year like it does every year.

I bought the chair the first year I lived in Vernon. We rented a shop on 32nd Avenue and our landlord was an antique dealer. He was a nice man with a southern accent, from Georgia, who imported antiques. I love antiques and only those that I can use for daily living like tables, chairs, hutches, benches that are practical. I love that others dined at our tables. That their clothes and treasures filled the drawers and that they have sat in those seats. I especially love chairs. Furniture, not dishes or glassware, hold my interest, the marks on the wood have a story and I love stories.

The design of the leg, the carvings, the details and pride in the craftsmanship are appealing and we often do not see that today  in the mass-produced furniture of today. It could be an ornate detail or a clean simple line that is attractive.

My green chair is of the old style captain’s variety, with stuffing made of horse hair I am sure. We bought it when I was pregnant with our first child. It was the go- to chair for nursing, storytelling, relaxing. It is a chair that you can swing your legs over easily, the type of chair Santa would be comfortable in.  It was a favourite seat in our den, often piled high with big cushions when the lads were younger to give them a different perspective on the world.

This was where we sat to share the events of our day, funny stories and sad stories. Where I heard about troubles, joys and adventures, or where we go when we needed to “talk.” With some families it might be the couch, dining or kitchen table, or a big comfy bed. We have these spots in our home that are special.

The green chair has been in our home since the beginning of the “us” as a family.

Now at the lake it sits in the “great room” in front of the wood stove and is still the chair that I like best. To read in, to stretch out comfortably with a foot stool to share conversations, enjoy the quiet and perhaps have a nap. Like a favourite blanket that has become a comfort, the chair is to me; it’s familiar.

Each year I consider having it upholstered and go and look for fabric, get a swatch, keep it on it for a week to get a feel for whether it will work, and I keep it the same. I still can’t seem to find the “right” fabric. For a woman who loves to change up the interior of our home I’ve decided this chair will not be changing. I will keep the green velvet that is worn, shape a quilt around it or perhaps put a slip cover on it so that I can peek under and see the original, and meander down memory lane. It is not torn, just old.

Before it was with us, this chair was a comfortable place for other moms and dads and children to sit, read stories, share cuddles and conversations.

In a world where we replace and dispose of items so quickly I like to keep my old furniture that has stood the test of time: solid, still useful and adaptable, and for what it represents to me. Family, the past, present and the future.

Michele Blais is a longtime columnist with The Morning Star, who writes on a wide variety of topics, appearing every other Sunday. She has worked with families and children in the Vernon area for the past 27 years.

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