no, not the mountain range…but maybe you will keep reading anyway?
so, i am not sure when my adult fixation on adirondack chairs began (but i can get within a couple of years and will do so in a few paragraphs) but i sure do know the reason for it.
like most of my fond childhood memories, this one is all about my grandparents, and summer visits to their home. at this point i will have to let you know that my grandparents were the salt of the earth: beautiful; peaceful; intelligent; kind to each other and everyone else. they lived simply, and mostly with their hands, even though both were white collar professionals dedicated to public service: he a WW2 Vet who was a middle school principal then a social worker, she a 1st grade teacher for more than 40 years (see what i mean?).
anyway, back those warm, breezy days on their 2-acre spread, where granddad oversaw what we called “the orchard”, which consisted of 2 pear and 2 apple trees, the fruits of which grandad sliced with his swiss army pocket knife for a snack and which grandma canned, or made preserves, or pies. there was also a vegetable garden, a huge bounty of carrots and sweet potatoes and corn and cucmubers and snap beans and tomatoes. again, the harvest was canned/preserved mostly, but often picked fresh as needed for lunch or dinner. the garden was a long walk from the house, just past the orchard. and near one of the pear trees, was the chair that became known as “andrea’s chair”, a sturdy, wooden, hastily white-washed adirondack chair – dubbed so by my grandmother, whose affection for me was unconditional, unyielding and unmatched.
ok, my grandmother — wow — this woman taught me more about life, love, and living than anyone. through her gentle eyes, i saw that i was the most special person in the whole world, as did everyone she ever laid those eyes on. let this set the tone for the rest of what you are about to read.
as a little girl, my hair was long-ish, very blonde, thick. my grandmother used to love to touch it, “pet” it, smile at me and comment on it. on accasion, she would wash it in the old timey sink in their downstairs bathroom. i really loved this time we’d spend together; she’d tell me a story as she lathered way too much johnson’s baby shampoo (no more tears, thank you), usually something about my mom or aunt when they were little girls. i LIVED for these stories! she’d rub gently and thoroughly and lovingly, and always mentioned that when you rinse, you know your hair is clean when it “squeaks”. i’d beg her to “make it squeak” (accomplished by her rubbing her tightly closed hands along my clean, wet locks) over and over again. just to “be sure” – and to prolong this special time i am sure. we’d hear it “squeak” 5 or 6 times before i gave the “OK” for the towel, because at the end of this ritual was what i REALLY couldn’t wait to partake of. so then she’d gently dab with a huge thirsty terry cloth towel (the kind ONLY found in your grandma’s linen closet), and i knew i was one step closer to the grandest of finales.
from the sink, she and i would walk together, my hair damp and the ends dotted with water droplets, out the back door, to the orchard, and over to the big white adirondack chair by the pear tree. there was something about climbing up over the top and sinking down into the chair that made my young body feel triumphant and “grown up”. i’d sit still and grandma would comb the “tangles” out of my squeaky fresh hair ever so gently and we’d make sure that chair was in the sun so, as she would say, your hair can be “sun kissed” while it dries. then she’d look at me with a twinkly smile and ask, “orange or lime?” i’d usually say “lime”. grandma would walk back into the house and return with a bowl full of lime sherbet for me. i’d smile and pull it close with both hands, delerious with anticipation. as i shovelled the sherbet into my watering mouth, she’d primp and fluff and “check” my hair for dryness, saying that in the time it took me to finish my sherbet, it ought to be dry. she would leave me to my lime treat, and i’d lap it up as fast as i could before the heat of the day melted it into the inevitable green puddle at the bottom of the bowl. i’d spoon this lime liquid into my mouth like cold soup and fall gently and triumphantly back into the wooden valley of that sturdy chair, clinking my spoon rhythmically on the porcelain bowl and surveying the ripe pears that had fallen from the tree around me while my hair dried. i’d gather three or four (as many would fit in my sticky-sweet bowl) and run them into my grandmother. she’s smile down at me, thank me, and we’d run them under the faucet, dry them, and place them just so as a centerpiece on her table.
fast forward 30 years.
a dear friend in houston had 2 adirondack chairs on her porch. i never EVER went over her place without sitting in one and insisting she brave the heat and mosquitoes and enjoy them with me. i often recounted the story you just read, and she’d listen each time, sincerely and sweetly. one time, she even bought sherbet and brought me some in a bowl. she cracked a beer and smiled as i showed my appreciation and lapped up a childhood memory. we even had a joke between us that those chairs would be bequeathed to me in her will. i wonder if they are?
suffice it to say, any time i see an adirondack chair, especially a set of two, i smile. lately, i have taken to shooting pictures of them when i find them in unlikely places. i will share the two i have so far, and maybe i will add more as i gather more:
these two i found on a grassy knoll in washington heights, nyc, right after i got our of my car after driving 4 hours to meet a friend for a concert later that night (late sept). i ran right over to them (on my way to her place) and snapped this one. you can see that they overlook the staggering george washington bridge and the mighty hudson.
these two i stumbled on when i took a stroll through the willilam hill estate winery in early october. check out the view of the rolling hills of grapes!
right now i just wish i had a picture of that big, sturdy, wooden, hastily white-washed adirondack chair under the pear tree in my grandad’s orchard.