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U.S.A., Washington State. USDA zone 8a. Sunset climate zone 5

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

No Red Bench In My Garden

San Juan Islands, WA
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Get yourself a cup of tea or a shotglass of vodka, whatever you prefer, get comfortable and do me the favor of listening to my dramatic story about a Red Bench. I do not doubt that most of you can relate to it and many of you, my friends, have your own 'Red Bench' story. It could be actually not a red, but let's say black bench, or not a bench at all, but, let's say, a table, or .... Possibilities are endless. You get the idea. One day, you will tell us your own story, OK?
Let's start.
Several years ago, we were traveling to the San Juan Islands in Washington state. Beautiful place, I should say. Close to Canada and wonderful Vancouver Island.
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Roche Harbor. San Juan Island, WA
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Sightseeing, garden tours, hiking and, of course, just looking around at how people live and tender their gardens in this enchanted part of the earth.
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One of the tour gardens. Beautiful garden and friendly owners. San Juan Island, WA
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Historic Hotel De Haro. San Juan Island, WA
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Once, on our way to the next landmark, I spotted a bench on the lawn in front of a small house. A magic sign announced that the bench was free. I am not saying everything that is free is magic. If it would be an old washing machine or dryer or even an antique lawn mower, it wouldn't get my attention. But, it was A Bench, something that I could put in my garden. Something I could lie on and take an afternoon nap.
Something I could sit on and admire the products of my labor. I don't mean the labor that produced two blue-eyed boys 11 years ago, but a labor of love. Of course, those two boys also were a product of a labor of love, but I mean a labor of love of nature. Of course, .... Well, you understand.
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San Juan Island, Washington state
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Enough about love. Back to the bench.
The bench, obviously, was not new. I could see some signs of wear and tear. But, it was made from thick, massive pieces of wood, and it was freshly painted. The color was red. True red. I can not say that red is my favorite color. There was a time when I used to buy mostly plants with red colored blooms, but it was in the past. Red was OK for a bench. It could be a bright spot in my Terrace garden, a stylish splash of color, an exclamation mark in the midst of the greenery of my black currants. "I like that bench!"- I said. The driver, who happened to be my husband, made several runs pass the house whose owner was so generous in giving away that wonderful piece of garden furniture. What he saw, obviously, was different from what I saw. He saw a piece of junk which someone threw away. He thought the owner was looking for an idiot who would take away that junk, saving him a fee which he would need to pay for having it hauled away. Trash collecting service is pretty pricey on islands, I would guess.
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View from Mt.Constitution. San-Juan Islands, WA
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What is an island? A piece of land surrounded by water.
Here, you can not dump trash in multiple dump sites which we have on the Big Land. There is just not enough space on an island to dump all the old benches, washing machines and retired vacuum cleaners. Knowing this, my husband said: "OK, we'll pick it up on the way back".
We could fit the bench in the back of our SUV right then. But, he was sure that nobody, absolutely nobody, would put an eye on that delapidated, miserable piece of old wood. Or, maybe, he hoped that I'd come to my senses while admiring the charming, fresh scenery of the island and surrounding waters.
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Roche Harbor. San Juan Island, WA
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Well, for this or that reason, we left the bench where we found it.
Several hours later, my husband realized that he was wrong in his assumption. I was not the only idiot who wanted the red monster. The bench was gone. It was taken by someone who, probably, like me, used to watch HGTV programs about trash being turned to treasures, about magical finds on the side of roads, who was drooling over the stories told by their friends about treasures discovered in trash containers behind home furnishing stores, etc.
Anyway, the bench was gone. Even before I opened my mouth, he was sorry. You don't want to know everything what I said then. The main point of my speech was that I liked the bench and that it was FREE. It didn't cost 10 dollars, it didn't cost one dollar, it didn't cost even one cent. It could be mine for free. It could make me happy, and my happiness wouldn't cost even a cent. "Did I offer to buy a $ 6,000 outdoor furniture set from the Horchow catalogue?"- Questioned I? "No! I wanted a free bench and you wouldn't pay even a penny for it". Actually, I didn't need to say anything. He was already suffering. He regreted a thousand times that he didn't stop and pick up that ugly red thing. I suspect that it was not even the bench itself that he didn't like. It was the fact that he would need to get out of the car and, under the ironic eyes of the whole world, take something abandoned by another person.

To make this story shorter - he fell bad about that red bench for a long time. Images of the Red Bench were hanging in the air around us for several months. To heal my wound, a bright turquoise bench was bought and brought to our garden, but it was not the same as the red bench.
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It was not red, and most importantly, it was not free. It was not a subject of my pride, it didn't have a story behind it and it lacked the excitement of finding a treasure on the side of the road.
The turquoise bench is OK. It glides, it's comfortable and I take a nap on it in the middle of the day. At least, until a crew comes along to mow our neighbors' lawn.
You, who managed to read my story til this point, thanks for your patience. I hope it brings closure to my Red Bench story.
Just in case - if you are the one who picked up that red bench, let me know when you'll be ready to put it on the side of the road with the sign FREE. I'll be there the next day!
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P.S. Already, after I finished this post, I found the picture below. Hey, it might be the folks who picked up my bench! They say they take everything!!!
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Copyright 2010 TatyanaS

31 comments:

  1. Tatyana: What a story to read when I have a cup of coffee in hand! (not tea, and not a shotglass of Vodka :) Your pictures are so beautiful, and your story telling is so vivid. Now that red bench is going to hang in my mind for a while as well! I would also have wanted that bench, and my husband probably will be the same way. Sometimes when we drive, I spot a piece of something that caught my eyes (often garden related), my husband would reluctant to stop, and think it is shame to pick up the trash on the road! I guess he did not know what "Somebody's trash is else's treasure" means :) Anyway, I really enjoyed your story, and your turquoise bench IS beautiful! What is the purple flower in the foreground of that picture? So gorgeous! I adore your garden!

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  2. Oh, mercy me! That could have been Mr. Dept911 & me!!! We go round about these kinds of things ... do you really need it? I am so tired of hearing that that now it is like this 'if you don't stop & let me pick it up ...' welllll, you know the rest of the story.

    There is nothing more beautiful than the SJI's ... we are originally from Chehalis. We used to go out on my brothers boat around there for lovely leisurely days ...

    Have a beautiful summer's eve ...
    TTFN ~ Marydon

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  3. So funny , and just how life is. Make him suffer more about being too prideful to pick it up...maybe a few more years or decades. Then again, be thrilled that he felt so bad, that makes up for him not getting it as it demonstrates his feelings towards you. His remorse and apologizes make up for it , it was just a bench..free or not right ? Free is just so darn cool though. Take care, Gina

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  4. I love the story with the lovely photographs to match, but for me more often than not, a cup of coffee will do to prolong the enthusiasm. In my case, I always on the lookout for the favourite green stool, to sit on for a rest or for a round of weeding. Cheers, have a nice day. ~bangchik

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  5. Gosh darn it I'm laughing really hard at this one cause I could see me all over this one!!! I have lived this day over and over. But have learned from too many benches left behind, and I'll go back stories to wake up and say, enough is enough and I want it NOW, stop the car!!! I too have benefited from quilt but your so right it's just not the same!!!Thanks for a great story and photos.

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  6. That is so sad. I love found objects. My husband used to "trash collect" with me, but as he has gotten older, he is a little more shy about it. There have been a few times that I have really wanted something and he has guilted me out of forcing him to comply, and then I feel rotten for ages because I know that what I wanted would have been awesome and I let someone's unreasonable hesitation stand in my way.

    My "red bench" story happened in Scotland. I had spent two weeks a few years back with a team of cetacean scientist scouring the Moray Firth south shore for dolphins. In that whole two weeks, we saw NONE! Two years later, I took my family to Scotland and during that trip we were traveling in a bus along the Moray Firth south shore to visit a castle. As we were passing by the water I saw dolphins leaping from the water! The bus stopped a half mile up the road, but I could not get my family to budge from the bus because they were tired and we would miss going to the castle. The castle would be there tomorrow, but the dolphins were here right NOW! Nothing. We did not go back to see the dolphins playing in the bay, and I will always regret not getting off the bus by myself to go back to see them.

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  7. "Free" is a treasure !
    But also I think we all like to romanticize about found objects and maybe much more about people we never met but wished we did.

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  8. Great story! I visit San Juan Island often in my boat - Roche Harbor and Friday Harbor, and everything in between. I just love that place!

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  9. I was intrigued by your post title, and must say the story of the red bench is priceless. I do agree we all have regrets (I've got my share), but I do like your turquoise bench. Though it might not have the great story to go with it, I'll bet it's a much nicer catch.

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  10. I love the turquoise bench! And it does have a story - the delightful one you just told! If it were not for the red bench, would you have that one? And would you have kept the red bench red or painted it turquoise?

    I enjoyed this post very much - great pictures and interesting story!

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  11. Oh, what a wonderful post!! I once picked up a child-sized twig chair left at the curb for the trash collector. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't kind to it. So, I put it out for the trash collector, and lo and behold, someone drove by, saw it, and took it. Perhaps they were handier than I and repaired it.

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  12. I think many of us have our own red bench stories. I have a similar relationship with my husband. I often see things on the side of the road and am tempted to ask my husband to pull over, but never do. He would just react the way your husband did.
    Sometimes I go back on my own later to check things out. If I bring something home, my husband most often think it's trash.
    In my neighbor's yard, across the street, there is a free wicker set. A love seat and two chairs. Told my husband I would like to have it in my back yard, but he does not want it. You would never sit there, he says. But I like the thought of it there, in the back yard. Even if I didn't use it.
    Well, tomorrow is Monday and my husband will be back at work. Maybe I'll run over and grab the stuff, bring it over, to try it out. And if it doesn't work, I can put it back and nobody will know. (My neighbor is away for the summer)

    Love your story Tatyana!

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  13. That's true what Deb said, there is a story to the turquoise bench. I can feel your pain, though. My husband would be reluctant to stop, too.

    That's a beautiful place! Great photos!

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  14. Soooo funny, Tatyana...you describe exactly what my husband and I are like...I am forever wanting him to pick up stuff and he is embarrassed to and then later he realizes he, too could have used or liked what we could have had...so we go back and of course, it is gone. hhaaaa

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  15. Ah, well. Quite a story. I would have preferred a happy ending, but alas... I sometimes do these things to myself. See something, and like it. Come back the next day, and it's gone.

    I do like the turquoise bench, it looks very elegant.

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  16. Great story, we've all been there - unfortunately.

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  17. I like your story. I like your turquoise bench. I think turquoise is better...but you will always think it second best! lol
    We have never been garage sale or drive buyers so much..but my husband is addicted to auctions. All those should have bought that..and me thinking "Thank God we didn't!"

    I also liked your previous Amur post. Have a nice day.

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  18. Buyers regret. I have had it a few times myself. Now, however, I know when I just HAVE to HAVE something.It was sweet your hubby tried to make it right. Sometimes when I admire something and don't get it, I find after I get home Mr. Wonderful has bought it on the sly.

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  19. Ah yes, regret. I'm sorry about the bench, Tatyana but when I miss opportunities like this I figure the recipient needed it more than I did. I'm sure the red bench is in a very good place. And because you're on the lookout, another opportunity will present itself. Just watch. :)

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  20. I think many of us have a red bench story or two. I'm sorry you missed the opportunity to bring it home. Treasures like that are always all the more special because of the story that goes with them. At least the bench gave you the story, even if its whereabouts are now unknown. Because of such events in the past though, if I see it and LOVE it (not just like it, it really has to grab me), I don't wait...to wait is to regret. For me, that is a result of my own red benches that have slipped through my fingers...I'm certain that your next red bench, won't get away!

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  21. aloha tatyana,

    yes i feel for you and your bench...i also love to think about found treasure repurposed for some greater use, i have a whole collection in my yard and too many benches, i did have a nice red bamboo outdoor dinette collection that i ended up selling prior to my move to hawaii because it was just too bulky to ship...i really regret this because I can't get my mind off this beautiful dining set, that i could never duplicate, although i am always dreaming about painting something bright red when i find just the right thing again for free...i can't wait! :)

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  22. Tatyana, the summery blue bench is pretty and it looks so good in your garden with the lavender in the foreground. I say the red bench story
    is as good as having the bench this from an onlooker, loving your stories. I feel with you because last time when I was in the outback which still has lots of "trash" (sorry for the word) stores I saw two fabulous
    (in my eyes) garden chairs. They were exactly the ones I wanted since a long time. A$ 20 each. There is only one firm who still makes them new but they are very expensive. Anyway we where there with the Commander only six seats and they were occupied, the hold all is very small and full with our luggage. I was eyeing the plane and Bill said do not look at the wings those chairs are not coming with us.

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  23. Great story...and I hope your husband learned the lesson!

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  24. i have done similar things myself..thanks for my morning smile.

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  25. Lovely story, Tatyana! The turquoise bench does have a story and you just told it to us! Our family loves visiting the San Juan Islands. Many happy memories. Thank you for your lovely post and for mentioning it in your sweet comment on my blog. Wishing you sunshine!

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  26. This was a great story, Tatyana -- and I love all those pictures of the gorgeous San Juan Islands. I guess this is the garden equivalent of a fish story -- the one that got away. In my case, these stories tend to be about plants that I didn't buy when I had the opportunity and have never been able to find again (although they haunt my dreams!). -Jean

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  27. Great pictures and great story.

    You could always repaint that bench red.

    That last photo is hilarious!

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  28. What a wonderful article! The sites are very amazing. I love to tour on places like that. So refreshing after seeing all of the photos! Thanks for the post.

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  29. I loved this tale of regret and missed opportunity, and the way you told it! A great story.

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  30. What a bench story you had. It really touching, your husband driver have regretted for not appreciating your taste or just he is arrogant on getting a piece of junk. The fact is, the whole event could not bring back that red bench. But i do hope your husband learned a lesson or two on that story.

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