Sunday, November 30, 2014

Mystifying Ruination

Why does a person deliberately allow a thing of beauty, created with masterful attention, to crumble to dust? I cannot comprehend.

Last spring a lovely family moved to our neighborhood. I often stop to speak to one or the other of them when out on my morning walk. Soon after they moved in, I noticed that they placed two exquisite, carved, dark wooden desks in front of their house along with several carved wooden chairs. One of the chairs has elaborate orange and rust-colored brocade upholstery set into the back and the seat. This furniture is placed under a spur of roof that shelters the “porch,” however the front of the porch area is open and completely exposed to the weather.

I was surprised to see this magnificent furniture left out in the sun during the summer, but I imagined that eventually the owners would take it inside. Not so. It remained outdoors on into what is now the rainy season. These beautiful pieces of antique furniture have been touched by the damp and this week they are slick with rain.

A few days ago, I saw the woman who bought the house and I asked her what was up with the antiques outdoors. She explained to me that she collects antique furniture and that her previous house was much larger than this one so she doesn’t have room for all the antiques inside this house. She and her husband enjoy sitting outdoors so they decided to enjoy their antique desks and chairs outdoors until the elements destroy them.

Wait, what?

I asked her why she doesn’t give them away or sell them. She said they are too valuable to just give them away (wait, what again?) and that selling them is too complicated. She explained to me that you don’t just sell antiques, that you have to hire an antique broker to value them and sell them for you. They don’t want to go through the hassle of selling them. She said they would rather enjoy them outdoors until the pieces are ruined. I didn’t ask her what they would do with them after that. Maybe take them to the dump, I guess.

I don’t get this.

Every day I walk past these extraordinary pieces of old, old furniture that a craftsman spent hours and hours building, that contain history, beauty, precision, care, and, let’s put it out there – love. I am mystified as to why someone would allow these beautiful pieces of functional art to die. In my world, the splendid things that people create are precious. Perhaps the owners of the doomed antiques would rather “use them up” themselves than allow someone else to have them and appreciate them. I am speculating. I cannot fathom the logic of this. 

I had to write about the doomed furniture because the situation disturbs me. I am tempted to steal the furniture. To rescue it. But that is unethical and against the law. There is some sort of lesson here. I am still working out what it is. I have started speaking to the furniture when I pass. Comforting it, as I would a dying friend. I see no reasonable resolution to this situation. It will end badly, I fear, for both me and the antiques.

None of these chairs pictured below is the brocade orange chair soaking up the rain today, but they remind me of it. The second chair is sort of the style and the wood is similar to the one dying. The print pattern on the first one reminds me of the pattern of the fabric, but it's not that color. It's more the color of the third chair. Just to give you a taste of it. 

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