Chair-ish is the Word

Letter from the Editor, June/July 2019

Megan SwoyerWhenever my siblings and I would return home from wherever — errands, the grocery store, you name it — and one of our favorite television shows was about to be on, my younger brothers and I would yell, “I call the squashy chair!” and dash down the stairs to the basement. Whoever said it first would be able to claim the squashy chair for the duration of the show.

If you weren’t the first to yell, you’d better be quick to say, “I call the hard chair!” The hard chair was an old, very upright, leather chair — which sounds uncomfortable, but it was much better than the third alternative.

Being quick, I usually found myself in either the squashy or hard chair, watching “Bewitched” or “Green Acres.” The third option was — well, I’m not exactly sure what they were. We had two of them. They were like low, wooden cot frames with a custom cushion/mattress. There were no backs, so they weren’t great for TV-viewing.

Getting back to the squashy chair. Why was it so coveted? Probably because it was comfortable. It may have been one of Mom’s castoffs from upstairs, but its soft, worn fabric and sagging cushion were A-1 to carefree kids settling in for some fine TV and Pop-Tart snacks. It was also the perfect place for plopping down and listening to Blood Sweat & Tears’ “Spinning Wheel” on the record player, over and over. “What goes up, must come down, spinnin’ wheel, got to go ’round!”

It’s easy to define your happy place as a child. As we grow, that happy place is a little more elusive. Do we have enough time to actually sit and listen to music? And would you say your happy place is the chair in which you sit while watching television? Does that television show really make you happy?

I have two spots in my home to which I gravitate regularly and, boy, are they my places of contentment. One is my fall-winter spot, and the other is where I head on warmer days.

A very large, “squashy”-type chair with a floral watercolor pattern in our living room, complete with a matching ottoman, provides comfort and an excellent view through a large window to the front yard and street. It’s the perfect place for soaking up some natural light. I read here quite a bit while the snow swirls around or rain splatters atop the porch just outside the window. Hot tea is usually on the sidetable, as well as a glowing candle. I often even work on my laptop in this cozy chair (not good for the back/posture, of course, but sometimes there are trade-offs!).

Come warmer weather, my No. 1 spot is on a petite patio in the backyard. It’s adjacent to the larger deck and a small garden chock-full of pink begonias and coneflowers, multicolored zinnias and dahlias, and white roses that we planted on one of our wedding anniversaries.

A sun-themed stepping stone from my mother-in-law’s garden and a leaf sculpture from my dad’s yard round out the vignette. Here, sitting in an inexpensive plastic turquoise Adirondack chair beneath a canopy of flowering crabapple tree foliage, I recount the day and count my blessings.

It’s an even better spot when my husband joins me. We’ll sometimes lounge here after doing a bit of yard work, enjoying a crisp, cold chardonnay. We chat about what needs attention in the yard, the flowers, and the critters that seem to eat everything we plant, and we watch cardinals and goldfinches munch on birdseed.

While dinner is cooking indoors, or on the grill, the ethereal and oh-so-summery spirit of  happiness seems to flit like a butterfly amid our bird feeders and maple and sycamore trees, and then lands on the arms of our chairs or right on our shoulders.

Here, in this tiny section of our backyard, all seems 100 percent right with our world … and I don’t have to call dibs on the chairs!