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A DAY IN THE COUNTRY:   Rocker has its own heritage

© Another Day in the Country

Almost 50 years ago, I came home from the hospital after giving birth to my daughter, Jana, and her father, Ted, presented me with a lovely Danish modern rocking chair.

The bottom rockers were steamed wood, bent in one long piece to become the arms of the chair. It was slim, of beautiful design, bright orange, and the most uncomfortable chair for a young mother you could imagine.

The discomfort came from the fact that it was covered in wool and scratched your bare skin.

So think of me, in the middle of summer, with no air conditioning, getting up at night to tend to my child, sitting down in the rocker to soothe my baby, and every place my bare skin touched the chair, it itched.

I tried throwing a lightweight blanket over the chair and then sitting in it. I tried a shawl, but everything slipped off. I never wore long nightgowns or long legged pajamas to bed — not even in winter — and this was July, 1969.

My husband was so pleased with his purchase. He had been saving money for a rocker he’d seen at his favorite Norwegian furniture store. He brought it home in triumph, and when I didn’t use the chair, he asked, “Why? Don’t you like it?”

I liked it. It was a beautiful chair. Unfortunately, a little like my husband himself, it was not practical.

I finally confessed that it made me itch. So, the chair was never used to nurse and soothe the baby.

It became an art piece, some seating to offer to a fully-clothed guest in our home. It served that function nicely; but always, I wished it was more user friendly.

The years passed. My daughter grew up. I got divorced from her father.

He went off to the East Coast, and, of course, left the chair with me. I decided to move back to Ramona for a few months… maybe a year. The chair was stored in the garage.

Somewhere in the intervening years between Ted leaving for Washington, D.C., and me going to Ramona, the rocking chair had a hole chewed in it so I decided to cover it with a more friendly fabric.

I was poor and practical. I didn’t know a lot about upholstery but I’d tried my luck on a few chairs in The Ramona House in Kansas, where we went for working vacations. I bought some unbleached cotton canvas and redid the chair. It worked. It was a lot more comfortable and matched with anything.

Of course, then I returned to Kansas and the chair went into the garage.

This summer, on one of my daughter’s few “days off,” we went shopping at a favorite discount store.

My daughter offered me a reusable bag so I wouldn’t have to buy my own for my purchases since California is serious about conservation. “I don’t need one,” I said. “I’m not buying anything.”

We were heading toward the cashier when we passed a display of throw pillows and hassocks. They were decorated in bright colors, straight from some village in India.

“Did you see these?” my daughter asked. “I thought you’d be going gah-gah.”

I hadn’t seen them and when I did, I promptly bought one — it wouldn’t have fit in a shopping bag anyway. The hassock, foot stool, and pouf, covered in unbleached canvas, were perfect for putting your feet up while sitting in the Danish modern rocker stored in the garage!

The top and bottom were covered with bright cotton fabric, and around the sides marched appliqué elephants holding flowers in their trunks.

“I’m going to decorate that rocker your dad gave me to match this pouf!” I announced.

Jana didn’t ask why. She didn’t ask how! She knew her mother!

It’s another day in the country and my grandson and I started doing zentangles (basically what Indian designs look like) on the rocker. He was in awe!

“Are we going to draw all over this piece of furniture?” he asked.

That’s exactly what we’ve been doing… and while we draw, I’ll be telling him the story of this heritage rocker!

Last modified Aug. 2, 2018

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