Friday, February 13, 2009

September 22: Legs and arms

A goose crouches on the riverbank, unable to join its compatriots' migration. A lone white insect floats over the surface of the water, having missed its species bloom by two weeks. A canoeist, living on the river for three months exactly.

What lonely things should we discuss today? We'll let E M Forster be our muse:

"Furniture ... alone endures while men and houses perish, and that in the end the world will be a desert of chairs and sofas -- just imagine it! -- rolling through infinity with no one to sit upon them."

You see them all along the river, often paired but never mated. Office chairs, mostly, that have outlived their fashion or comfort, or are simply old. I commonly see discarded bait boxes or tackle, and even chests containing who-knows-what. I believe everyone who owns riverside property has established some poor seat overlooking it from which to fish.

Sofas are not much less common, and are often in surprisingly good shape considering weather. The fates of office chairs are individual and mysterious, but sofas have more public destinies. The water will rise and snatch them away, it seems, and take them to some more scenic resting place - sans cushions, of course! They are often found face down under bridges, but I have at least once seen a sofa perched high in a tree, embraced by the branches of its distant cousin.

The nylon lawn chairs seem to fare the worst, but this is something a true scientist should test. Of these I rarely see more than a folding frame swaddled in rotting fabric, collapsed upon the bank. The white plastic ones do better, regular seafarers it seems, finding some pile of branches to rest in.

Best are the congregations, the multitudes of seats -- I exaggerate -- the half-dozens of chairs half-circled about some point near the water. Typically the central chair even sits higher than the others, as on a little hillock. So we know that even at the bottom rungs of its society, furniture maintains some social hierarchy.

And Forster is right: these seats are always empty, and slowly rolled by rivers to the sea. We can only hope that once there they are put to good use, that somewhere schools of fish study at discarded desks, sharks sleep in loveseats, and lionfish-tamers do their work with a chair and whip.

When the oceans are full, then we shall be buried in furniture. Before the end we will construct castles and oceanside villas out of the cushion, as we did when we were children, but before long it will become difficult to navigate: "Oh, turn left at the chesterfield, climb down five oak chairs and then take each right until you see the pink leather loveseat: we live behind the next roll-top desk."

Day 93 ended: 49*58.053N, 097*39.362W

(I apologize for the late post today. My written journal says "I typed up a pretty awful journal for Sept 22", and the filename for this typed journal indicated the entry was incomplete. I was loathing the thought of fixing up this awful, incomplete entry so much I put it off until now, when pulling it up in my text editor I found... this.)


PsySal said...

I think this has to be one of my favorites. And yes, just generally in this world the furniture is piled high, high, high.

John said...

When I was younger, I often dreamed of having a couch in the desert, the desert of Krazy Kat and the Western, living a quiet Saturday life outside of time.

Kevin Saff said...

I only wish I had completed this entry. I wonder what it would have been like? But I remember how painful it was to write at the time.

Rebecca vdW said...