The Chair that Swam South

Is this, perchance, a chair that yearns for a distant shore in some other land?

A moment of unalloyed joy beneath a blue sky in the midday sunshine. The sea fizzing and frothing beyond the sand dunes. Five degrees in the air. A winter’s day on the south coast of Sweden.

The chair, a big warm blanket and me with my black hat. What a wonderful privilege to indulge in such extravagance. An occasion to remember, a cost-free luxury that cannot be denied when you live so close to the sea and there’s a comfortable chair just waiting to welcome a little companionship. It’s almost as if it wants to show you the magnificent view it enjoys and share the pleasure with you.

I caught sight of this wicker chair out of the corner of my eye while I was out walking. The chair wasn’t mine, and the big, warm blanket that would have been so good to snuggle up in existed only in my vivid imagination – yet the thought of it occupied my mind for the rest of my way back home.

Had someone been sitting there earlier in the day, taking in the view and listening to the sighs and surge of the waves? If so, why leave the chair behind? Was it simply a generous gesture to anyone needing to rest for a while? Did the chair’s owner intend to return? Or had someone sought a relatively easy solution to ridding themselves of an unwanted chair?

Many questions that must go unanswered.

A little later I retrace my steps past where the chair had stood … but now it is gone!

Can it have been blown into the sea to bob up and down on the waves all the way to Gedser in Denmark, on to Warnemünde in Germany or even Swinoujscie in Poland? There’s little doubt that it can swim – most chairs can when they’re not encumbered with fabrics.

A greater concern, however, is that wicker chairs tend to be relatively short-lived. Their frame of rattan, cane or willow is ill-suited to undue hardship, so they need to be treated with a modicum of care.

Sometimes you can come across old wicker chairs from the mid-1800s, styled according to the fashions of the time – Gothic Revival or Rococo Revival. Painted black more often than not. Wicker furniture remained popular on people’s verandas even after the turn of the twentieth century.

We know that the forbears of wicker chairs were used in ancient Egypt and classical Rome. It’s astonishing to think that the tradition of wicker work dates back some 2,000 years before the birth of Christ. Little wonder, then, that wild imaginings continue to haunt my thoughts.

Gun Bjerkander Handberg

Note from the editor:

We are thinking of all our blog followers all over the world experiencing many months of separation and distance due to the global pandemic. We sincerely wish that our blog helps to bring some joy and a little life to your day wherever you may be!

Author Gun Bjerkander Handberg is delighted that her latest book Please Be Seated Winnie & Bessie is gradually launching, first here in Sweden, soon the UK and then the rest of the world! If you are interested in learning more about our series of three Please Be Seated publications do please contact the publisher by emailing, jules@vindandvagpublishing.com .