cushion crisis averted garden bliss on the horizon

My friends, the balance of the previously ordered patio cushions mysteriously arrived at our local Pier 1, unannounced, unexpected and oddly paid for, meaning my account had not been immediately credited when they thought the order couldn’t be filled.

For those of you tuning in to this miniseries at the last hour on the thrilling Sunday-night conclusion, I have searched far and wide looking for patio cushions to fit my hubby’s childhood patio furniture set. And I’ve been thwarted several times. Stores don’t have enough right-sized cushions to fill 2 arm chairs and the very long sofa. Or they have enough too-small ones that don’t appear to be too small until I get home with 14 of them, 6 on the sofa, 2 for each of 2 chairs, plus the dinette and throw pillows.

So, why are patio cushions a big deal? I love my garden. I’ve been working so hard to get rid of the lawn, plant beds of perennials and turn a modest rise of eroding topsoil into a Northern woodland garden. After 5 years, I still have a lot to do, including overcoming 1,000 square feet of invasive, introduced myrtle. Part of my reward for all this work is spending time in the garden, not gardening.

I want to dine in my garden. Read. Write. Draw. But most of all I want to entertain in my garden. Friends, family … may be even a stranger or two, provided they come with good references.

I’ve been eying deep seat arm chairs for two seasons. The newest ones are made of composite materials and would weather the outside well. I’ve been making due with a dining set, by wrapping the arms in electricians tape when the wood started splitting and ultimately removing the wooden arms completely. For two years, I’ve had old-fashioned dreams of sipping coffee in the morning with the neighbors. Or reading a newspaper or magazine and enjoying my yard all around me, and my legs tucked under me on a cushion. Having a glass of wine at dusk, my favorite time all day.

What’s that old joke. Want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans.

My hubby’s father died last year, leaving his patio furniture to his sole heir. The same patio furniture that Scott had growing up in Venezuela. World traveling patio furniture. Metal. Heavy. Bigger than standard. And sentimentally, very important to my beloved.

I have lots of memories of talking with my father in law about the garden and in it. He scoffed when I put the vegetables in the front yard. And he wondered about the bed I put in two years ago off all by itself. The same bed where this year bluebells have overgrown the edges and narrowed the void to all but a walkway.

He never got to see the foxgloves bloom along the cottage wall. Or the new hosta gardens in the backyard. I planted a lilac in front of the bedroom window where he stayed when he visited. None of us expected it to live—I cut the primary root moving it there. It lives.

And so now we have my father in law’s patio furniture. He painted it green, with beige accents. It’s not very attractive. And the metal arms on the arm chairs are not as comfy against my folded legs as those new composite ones that look like rattan but wear for years without needing any maintenance. And of course there’s the quest for cushions.

After several spring shopping trips, I finally found cushions big enough. When we brought them home to make sure, the froshy green blended into the garden, making our outdoor living space fit the landscape. Since I cleaned out the store’s supply, we ordered the balance. Sated, I didn’t realize how much time had passed waiting for the order. When it did occur to me, Mora (customer service extraordinaire!) was standing at the shop in disbelief, my order in one hand and my phone call in the other. National couldn’t fill the order and didn’t explain. I was crushed.

I spent the next weeks, revisiting stores and online retailers to find that things had changed for the worse. I don’t have time for this. I contemplated custom cushions—the price. I even considered sewing them myself. I don’t have time for that either. And just as magically, tonight Mora called to say she’d set aside cushions for me. Cushions that had just shown up.

And so my plan to share my garden in cushy comfort is complete. Save my missing father in law.

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