Sunday, December 27, 2009

The couch came back

Our house was beginning to look like an abandoned cabin in the woods that had been recently pillaged and the couch, which was too awkward to carry, had been dumped outside the front door, on end, leaning against a tree.

During the three weeks it sat there waiting for us to announce its fate, it had been rained on, snowed on and become a sort of a magnet for other stuff to accumulate. Around the base of the tree against which the couch leaned had materialized an industrial strength black garbage bag, growing fatter by the day, a blue plastic garbage bin filled with birdseed, a couple of shovels, a mop bucket, a metal ash bucket and a pair of boots that waited to be cleaned before entering the house.

It had all got a little out of hand and finally, beneath the weight of it all, we decided the couch would go, no discussion, no waffling, it was time. Morgan wedged the edge of a fridge cart under the arm on which the whole couch now stood. He wrestled it around the tree and the wheels of the cart were almost enveloped by the stones that sketched out a path through the trees.

The path is made up of the roundest, smoothest stones I’ve ever seen, as though they were picked from the shoreline of a turbulent lake where they tumbled together and were swirled about by the water until all the rough edges were worn away. Individually they were quite beautiful. Piled together as the foundation for a rough flagstone path, they were almost lethal. Our feet sunk into them as though we were walking on a dry sandy beach. The flagstones, that were themselves rounded and smooth as though they’d been plucked from the bed of a river, skated over the top of the small spherical stones and encouraged excellent balance on a good day.

As Morgan trundled the wheels over uneven stone, the couch bounced and swayed like a tower threatening to tumble to the ground. I ran up behind to steady the beast as Morgan navigated the path that wound through the trees to our driveway.

By the time we reached the trailer, the couch had shimmied so far to the side, it barely clung to the edge of the cart. We lowered it to the driveway and finished loading the trailer. The couch was the last thing onboard. We lifted it almost effortlessly on to the four-foot by five-foot box, flipping it from where it stood on all five legs beside the trailer to rest on the edges of the seat and back rest. The legs pointed out from the bottom of the couch at a forty five degree angle to the sky. It looked helpless, like an ant that had been flipped on its back.

We tied the couch in place and started out for the dump. It hung over the front and the back of the tiny trailer and I sat in the passenger seat craning my neck around to keep an eye on it as we drove along the dusty road beneath a turquoise blue sky. The sun shone brilliantly on our couch that day, catching the orange stripes with a shimmer and a wink and the triumphant decision to throw out the couch dimmed a bit. It suddenly seemed like a sad journey to be making.

Then, Morgan said he really didn’t want to get rid of the couch. With that spoken doubt hanging in the air between us, I looked at him and realized I didn’t want to get rid of it either.

I turned back to face the couch again, it followed us down the road like a lost puppy. We hadn’t made it half way to the landfill site before we decided we couldn’t throw the couch away. At the dump we took the couch off the trailer and set it gently on the ground while we disposed of our garbage, then replaced the couch, roped it down and drove home.

The drive home was much more jubilant as we watched the couch bounce happily along behind us on the trailer. We discussed our plan to learn how to reupholster it ourselves, maybe even cut it down to make two oversized chairs. It was going to take a lot of work and was a project that would have to wait. In the next couple of days, we decided, we would strip it down and store the wooden frame in the crawl space under our house.

Other projects soon emerged, more pressing ones, and the couch settled into its new home just off the edge of our driveway where it collected pine needles and rain. Amidst the browns and burnt yellows of autumn leaves that carpeted the forest floor, and those few that still clung to trees whose skeletal frames emerged more with each gust of wind, the couch almost became invisible. Almost.

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