By Stephanie Cavanaugh
SOMETIMES all it takes is weeding through a bunch of . . . detritus . . . to come up with genius.
The pot (of the non-smoking sort) pile grew and grew beside the garden door, a teeter-tottering mess of clay and plastic and ceramic. It’s been that way for over a year, preparatory to the Prince doing something, though it’s possible he’s forgotten what.
In one of those pick-your-battles moves, I’ve held my tongue and suffered.
On Saturday morning, and I know not how, I managed to inoffensively phrase a desire to have the potting area under the back porch relieved of enough of his [crap] so that the pots and such could be stored in what should be the potting station under the porch but has become yet another storage area for his I-know-not-what. That was not the way I phrased it, but it was what I was thinking as I said it.
We were having guests over for Sunday dinner and I just wanted the garden with its now-faded tulips to look neat. Amazingly, this was done, with nothing thrown and no foul language. That he pulled the pickup truck up to the gate—and tossed all the pots and saucers into the truck bed—wasn’t mentioned for several days, but at least they were out of sight, out of mind, as most things around here go. (My darling son-in-law, Baby’s Personal Prince Pete, once called this the most disorganized house he’d ever been in; about this he is right.)
Anyway, early Sunday morning, taking my usual perch with coffee on the back-porch steps, gazing dewily at developments in the borders, I noticed that two stubby concrete pedestals had been unearthed from the pot pile, apparently too heavy to hoist onto the truck. These had been shoved here and there over the years but had been buried so long they’d been forgotten.
Then my discerning eye took in a handsome slab of marble, seven feet long, and similarly obtained with purpose and then forgotten, leaning against the far wall of the garden fence. Putting two and one together, this was . . .
A Eureka! moment if ever I’ve had one. Put the marble slab on the pair of bases and set them in front of the garden sofa and create a coffee table—or garden bench. The marble is mottled green with the merest hints of pink. The pedestals are a faded adobe red. It works.
In fact, the slab had been come by at Community Forklift, a re-use store in Hyattsville, Maryland, with all manner of curious house parts. My original intent in buying it had been somewhat similar to this, as I suddenly recalled.
Leafing through House Beautiful or Veranda or some such other fancy shelter magazine one day maybe 15 years ago, I came across a photo of a console table: a marble top on a pair of pedestals, costing $10,000 or something outrageous for the fancy pedigree. I figured I could do something similar for under a hundred bucks. So we bought the marble slab (it’s really quite beautiful—flat on one edge to go up against a wall and rough-cut on the other for visual interest) for around $50 at Forklift, which has stacks of marble and granite remnants from grand jobs. Our new “console table” would look great against a blank wall in the dining room.
We already had pedestals for the slab loitering about, white plaster Ionic columns we’d bought for unknown purpose at a junque shoppe for $5—for both. Really, who could pass that up?
Well, the project started out brilliantly, but due to an unfortunate accident, which we won’t get into, one pedestal cracked in half.* So we set the marble against the garden fence, where it would wait for new inspiration, which is what happened.
So, concept revived! The marble slab plus those stubby concrete bases, once hidden in the pile of pots, have found one another at last. Now we have a garden bench. Sometimes I really impress myself.
*That’s not the end of the story for the white plaster column. Oh, no. Cracked though it is, it now functions as a jury-rigged vase in the living room.