Spindle-back chair invites seeing life intentionally

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, August 12, 2009

Cochrane art framer Bruno Struck leans against a counter while sharing with our columnist his wisdom on seeing life well. Photo by Warren Harbeck

In last week’s column I praised a bench on the veranda of a coffee shop where I’m learning to sit back and listen to the life around me. This week I’d like to praise a simple wooden chair inside a local picture-framing shop where I’m learning to see.

But first some responses from our coffee companions:

Many spoke of the nostalgia of summer times spent on verandas and porches.

“You took me down memory lane, when we used to spend our summers in Bathurst, N.B.,” wrote Jeanne Hammer, of Calgary. “Memere and Pepere had a wonderful veranda with waist-high railings, where the beautiful morning glories climbed high and added such beauty. The old timers used to gather there for morning coffee and chit chat. Oh, for the good old days!”

For Cochrane Coffee Traders regular Leo Peters, there is “something magic” in the handmade three-person bench on the café veranda. The popular public speaker, songwriter and motivation expert wrote:

“In group dynamics, triads, a group of three people, don’t work! Yet, on this bench, for some reason, a triad works. Three people work together in perfect love and harmony, defying all the laws of group dynamics.

“Is it the kind of like-minded people that are attracted to Coffee Traders? The magic works inside, too. At the tall tables with three chairs, triads gather together to find win-win solutions to opposing viewpoints

“I have witnessed, and been a part of, a lot of triad encounters on this bench, all of them upbeat, friendly, magical meetings. As a songwriter I am inspired by romantic comments, or some great philosophical sharing of fresh ideas, and am amazed at the camaraderie of friends. Is this the magic bench of the Cochrane people? Do all verandas have this same effect?”

Which brings me back to the chair I referred to at the beginning of this column – a magic chair of a different kind and in a different setting not far away.

Most days of the week I follow a refreshing routine. After my morning mug at Coffee Traders, I mosey across the street to Bruno Struck’s High Country Picture Framing and Art Gallery in Rustic Market Square.

Upon entering, I call out across the partial wall, “Good morning, Bruno!” and take my usual seat on an old-fashioned country spindle-back chair near the counter. Bruno comes out to the showroom, leans against the counter, and engages me in another lesson rich in the textures and tones of wisdom.

That was the case at the beginning of this week. The day’s topic? The importance of really seeing – of treating all of our encounters in life with the same attentiveness with which we consider a fine painting, photograph or other work of art.

Of course, he conceded, not everyone really does see the beauty right in front of them. Some walk past exquisite works of art, for instance, as if they were mere background decorations. Preoccupied with trivial concerns and our culture’s narcissistic lifestyle, they do not raise their eyes to the truly meaningful – and are the poorer for it.

On the other hand, there are those who allow art to train them in seeing all of life more keenly, more deeply, more intentionally.

Bruno’s point is an important reason why I treasure my time in his framing shop. His skill in framing prompts me to pay more attention to the work of art he has framed. His words of wisdom inspire me to pay more attention to the even-greater works of art all around me: the people I encounter day by day.

I rise from Bruno’s chair, emerge from his shop, and discover Cochrane anew.

© 2009 Warren Harbeck

Return to Coffee With Warren home page