The flagstone patio at Nannie’s and Pop’s home in Hingham underlay the most wonderful wrought-iron furniture. The wheeled back legs of the chaises-longues allowed us to shift these monstrously heavy things relatively easily. Thick cushions in a floral fabric provided luxurious padding. A matching glass-topped table and a set of chairs invited us to dine al fresco, especially when purple wisteria shaded the area. They built the house in 1939; the patio furniture was likely in place well before the 1950s.
About the same time, a three-seat metal glider graced the screened porch at our summer home on Squam Lake in New Hampshire. It squeaked and clunked and the padding was hard but I loved it. It was the place for conversations and cocktails, books and cups of tea. It faced northeast; propped up on throw pillows at the end nearer the living room, however, I had a view straight out over the lake with Red Hill on the right and the Rattlesnakes on the left, prime real estate for watching thunderclouds push in with their curtains of rain. At some point the glider was sacrificed to built-in couches. That was a mistake.
Old metal furniture is a treasure.
Grandmother’s Porch Chairs
A pair of aged green patio chairs were a fixture on the front porch of my Dear One’s parent’s home. Stanley and Bernice moved into that solid little brick rancher in 1955 when it was brand new and a corn field occupied the space across the alley. The porch was an add-on and I suspect the chairs were acquired in the 1960s. Somewhere along the way, a pair of side tables joined the ensemble. Bernice ruled that domain until about 1991. My Dear One and I took over the house for the next fourteen years. When we moved here in 2005, those chairs came with us.
They have been repainted a few times over the years and strata of paint and rust have exploded on the arms and seats. I had been thinking about sneaking them out for refinishing as a Father’s Day gift. My Dear One would never notice that they had been replaced by a set of white folding chairs, would he? I looked for someone to take on the challenge and found just the person.
I never got around to calling, though.
Going Green Again
Then my Dear One mentioned just how bad the chairs looked and wondered if it would be a good idea to get them refinished. Why yes, I said, I thought that would be an excellent idea. We decided to get the tables done too. Might as well make everything look as good as new.
The process took longer than anticipated. An extremely damp summer meant work could not be done in large batches. Once sanded, items rusted up before they all could be coated. No matter. We are patient people.
It was worth the wait. Our chairs are shiny and good-as-new.
Normally at this time of the year we’d have had a family gathering to celebrate the autumnal birthdays and be looking forward to Thanksgiving, with cocktails on the deck, weather permitting, against a backdrop of leaves shading gold and garnet. The free-range turkey we order from Rumbleway Farm would be roasting in the grill and glasses of good, chilled Cava raised our spirits as we show off Bernice’s freshly greened chairs.
With a little luck, I’d be smug in my silence while mindful of the Blue Tsunami that had just ousted POTUS 45 and his army of brown-nosing thugs whose time of shredding our Constitution, eviscerating our democracy, discomposing our domestic tranquility and devastating our environment was drawing to a close.
Normally we’d also be making a list and checking it twice and drafting a Christmas letter filled with the adventures and amusements of the year now waning.
Except that in the year of COVID-19 our adventures have been confined to the back yard and our amusements mainly take place in the kitchen following excursions to the grocery store, Brad’s Farm Market, Lohrs Orchard and Hopkins road-side stand. The partisan jubilation to which I look forward is as verboten in the Christmas letter as it is at family gatherings.
We will always, however, have our shiny green chairs that are now as good as new. Better even.