Early this spring, I put an Adirondack chair in our tiny pocket front garden, so, for the first time in the 23 years we’ve lived here, I could sit outside, at plant level.
The chair was white. It sat beside a big turquoise pot positioned underneath the eaves to catch the runoff when it rains. Just behind the chair I planted a patch of yellow-flowered Corydalis.
My heart cried out for a red chair.
Once again I’d identified something I wanted with the pure longing of a child. I ached for a red chair just like I once ached for a skeleton.
But it was a project.
So was I going to be too busy? Too lazy? Too intimidated by the no-longer-familiar act of painting? Stopped by the first sign of resistance?
Or would I be hobbled by something much more insidious – the fear that if I do get my red chair, I won’t like it, which will somehow prove that I shouldn’t try to do the things I want to, because in the end, it won’t make me happy.
With that thought in mind, I realized that if I didn’t at least try for a red chair, I wouldn’t like myself. So I resolved to tackle it, one small step at a time.
I moved the chair around back and washed it with a hose, leaving a snowfall of white paint flecks on the ground.
Next step: clean that up.
I took the chair up to the back deck and scraped off the remaining loose paint. That yielded a surprising amount of fresh paint litter, considering all the paint that came off in the washing. I scraped thoroughly, and drew the line at sanding.
Then I was out to buy paint.
Oddly enough, there’s a certain opposition in the world to painting a white Adirondack chair red.
Alan didn’t like the idea at first.
“I’ve painted those chairs,” he said. “Do you know how many surfaces they have?”
I do now: six for each piece of wood, giving a rough count of 132 surfaces, total.
The manager in the paint store advised me that painting a white chair red was at worst doomed and at best foolhardy, because I’d need five coats of paint to cover the chair.
“You’ll put the first two coats on and come back here asking why it’s still pink,” he said.
The first coat took about 90 minutes.
It was pleasant on the back deck, warm and shady, with lots of birdsong. Slat after slat went from white to red, slow, repetitive work, with an equally slow thought stream slipping by.
I worked out a piece of writing while I painted. Then I spent some time remembering my Dad, whose hands could do anything from carpentry to car repairs.
He would have sanded.
When I thought that, my chair looked a little rougher. I could see how the old drips of white paint that I hadn’t sanded off would look like drips of red paint, and that the odds of new drips of red paint, given all those surfaces, was very high.
At that moment, I could have been catapulted back into the childhood where I learned not to want things. Sanding is good. Not sanding is bad. Instead, I woke up, and thought, “no judgement.”
Later in the day I flipped the chair over and painted all the places I hadn’t been able to reach when it was right side up.
That was Sunday. It’s Wednesday today. I’ve put on three coats so far, and I’m saying it’s done. Yes, it could use one more coat, but I didn’t sand the chair, and I’m using high gloss paint, so every layer of paint makes the flaws in the chair stand out even more. Besides, we haven’t been able to use the deck since I started painting.
My chair is brilliantly red, glossy, rough, and too wet to sit on until Monday at least. When I put it back in the garden, I noticed the mud spatters on the blue pot, and the fact that the Corydalis needs to double in size before its yellow will really speak to the red and blue.
Is this the chair I imagined when I first longed for a red chair? Close enough.
I like it. I plan to sit quietly in it on summer afternoons and early evenings, doing that most yogic of tasks, waking up.
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A while back, my niece Kris and I started a food blog called Ant & Anise. We’ve been playing around with it for a while, getting a few posts up, and figuring out the details.
But now Kris is in the midst of a 30-day Paleo Diet challenge – which for my bread-loving niece is a long 30 days. So I wanted to give you a heads up, and encourage you to check it out, especially if you’re considering cutting down on processed foods in general, and gluten in particular. So far she’s on day 11, which includes a recipe for Paleo banana bread.
And stay tuned, we’re hatching a plan for a Blackberry Madness series in August, with more blackberry recipes than you can shake a stick at.