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Friday, August 13, 2010

Benches and books, made for each other.

What is it about benches and books that seems to go well together?

Today, in a brief foray out to our local farmer's market in Frostburg, MD, we always pop into Main Street Books. A wonderful place, the perfect sort of bookstore, holding on to a way of selling books that has largely disappeared. Just out front there, I noticed a bench. There it is, under the plants. I liked the READ sign and composition of this, so the bench is sort of diminished, but still life's are like that.

Here is a better pictures of it, a classic five board, with wonderful wire cut nails. Worn and weathered, edged in cut and tool marks, it obviously spent many years in a workshop before being re-imagined. The owner of the shop, told me that it had been rescued from a garbage, sadly the fate of many good five board benches. I believe, from the construction, it must be at least very early 20th Century, if not late 19th.

When I informed the owner why I was taking pictures of his bench, we had a chat about benches and books, and blogs. All three of which are interrelated, in strange ways. Another excellent design blog out there, also read by the owner of Main Street Books is BookShelf, which explores creative ways to store and stack books, and is created by the blogger of Shedworking which is about working in small spaces, and with whom my fellow bench blogger, Sarah Salway, seems to have a professional connection as Literary Editor to, all of which is the sort of interlinked, six degrees of separation, thing that our modern world is so good at!

So it would seem that like any good lover of books, he loves benches as well, and showed me several others in the shop. There was this little modern bench, which sadly, I took a blurry picture of , but will post any way, for you will note the park bench behind it. Two benches for one.

Then there was this wonderful blue and weathered five board, layers of paint revealing stories and memories.

We were discussing benches and their ages. I was thinking about how is that many dining chairs and other furniture are cheaply made, but benches, by their nature tend to be solidly built. They last, often many generations. Perhaps that is why benches and books go well together. We all read on benches, the quiet that they tend to create is conducive to this. However, it is that solidity and stableness that is connected as well. A book, like a bench, can be a connection to an earlier time. We read the words as the author wrote them. Maybe that is it...or maybe they are just a great place to stack your books. Either is good.

Discussing old benches with Fred, he decided to show me a treasure. Hand sawn oak, pull knifed spindle legs, cut nails, with age and patina that wouldn't quit. I believe I actually gasped when he brought it out, eliciting good humored laughter, as few people get excited about benches.

What a bench. 150 years old or more. If only it could rest my ear on it's surface and let it tell me stories, I would write them down. Put them in a books, and stack them up on the bench that played witness.


  1. Wow. Great photos. Found your blog through Sarah. Will link to you from mine now.

  2. Thank you. I am still getting used to Blogger. I previously did all my writing at my LiveJournal.

  3. Happy to share my benches with you.
    Main Street Books