by Cathy Leestma
Along the concourse of The Charlotte airport they sit, as inviting as warm pieces of apple pie on grandma’s table. They line up in uniform fashion, white and clean and oh so inviting. The great American rocking chair has been a part of our nation’s history since the mid-eighteenth century. Presidents Lincoln and Kennedy increased their popularity, if that was even possible. New moms and grandmas and everyone in between love them. They can bring calm to a busy day and even provide relief from some of the aches life produces, both physical and mental.
When my babies were little, there was a pattern to how I rocked them. Two pats on the back as we leaned back and one as I came forward. It was and is the rhythm of my rocking, and in that rhythm I relaxed. And for that reason, I recently purchased the rocker you see on this page.
Its style and grace takes me back to my childhood and my grandmother’s porch at her lake cottage. The chair is old. It was made somewhere at the end of the 19th century. The original runners have been replaced with newer wooden ones. The story goes that it was part of a set from a New England home. For being well over a century in age, it is in remarkable condition. The wicker so beautifully intertwined has held up well, obviously not having been in the elements of severe weather.
And yes, I wonder about the people who have rocked in this chair. From where they were sitting, what was their view? What did their clothing look like and how did that change over the decades? What discussions did they have that took them late into the night? What history unfolded while this chair graced their porch? Life in all its wonder and fullness; births and marriages, receptions to celebrate and to mourn, a stock market crash and entry into two World Wars and endless events, good, bad and sad. And how did this old rocker travel across the country and end up in an antique store in California where I purchased it? These questions, never to be answered, can provide fodder for the imagination.
Now we are on to fall. From my porch, I will be watching as the leaves change, the weather cools and the sun settles lower in the afternoon sky. I won’t have a baby in my arms but the rhythm of the rocker will help me relax, I hope. After all that’s what rockers do.