Turn Left At The Cornfield

Learning how to hurry up and slow down.

When Red Isn’t….



After about ten years, the outside doors, of which there are four, and the rocking chairs on the porch have lost their once lovely luster and sheen.  Since the doors are protected by storm doors, they aren’t as needy as the chairs that are peeling and looking a bit shabby.  It isn’t shabby chic, by any means, it is just peeling-in-need-of-a-paint-job shabby.

Previously, the doors were painted a red that had taken numerous coats of paint to attain the red shown on the paint chip.  When the doors were painted, just before moving into the newly built house, the temperature and humidity were the same, 90%.  Only after talking to someone who knew about paint, and especially about red paint, did the resident painter learn that red dries very, very, very slowly, especially in humid and hot conditions. After the first two coats of paint, there were still parts of the doors that looked more like faded pink-red, rather than the true red desired.

Needless to say, the resident painter, after finishing the four doors with three or more coats of red paint, and waiting for days between coats, wasn’t very anxious to repaint the doors.  Another reason, according to the excuse-making painter, was that a color with a bit more pizzazz was required to draw attention to the doors.  So, for the next two, three, maybe, four years, purple, turquoise, and another shade of red were in the running for the “pizzazz” effect.  None really captured the painter’s heart nor inspired any great ambition to tackle the looming project.

Until…the HGTV magazine arrived in the mailbox, with the most beautiful color on a front door.  It was love at first sight.  The color wasn’t the same, mundane fire engine red of the current doors, that had, admittedly, faded a bit, but a richer, more lovely jewel-tone color that would enhance the doors at the homestead.  Since the closest big box store for purchasing that beautiful paint was over seventy-five miles away, one way, there was a bit of a delay from the instant love-at-first sight to the actual paint-in- the-can moment.

Taking the magazine in hand, to ensure the proper shade, hue, and color was purchased, the resident painter could hardly wait to get home and apply the paint to the front door.  After applying two to three coats to the door, the color was everything it promised to be.  It was elegant, shiny, and the prettiest shade of red, ever.  Then, the cold and windy time of the year settled in, and the other three doors were put on hold.

Back to the porch chairs that had been painted seven or so years ago, when the original finish had faded and peeled.  At that time, matching the chair color was more expedient than being bold and adventurous. It only took a couple of coats of semi-gloss dark brown paint to cover the chairs, and restore their show room patina.

However, this time the chairs needed a coat or two of paint.  Emboldened with the color on the front door, the painter decided to change the rich dark brown chairs to the lovely red of the door.  Since it was relatively cool, and the humidity was low, the painter decided to paint the chairs in the garage, where the road dust couldn’t spoil the finish.

Painting the chairs, two-at-a-time, seemed like a smart way to paint the chairs, since that left two other chairs on the porch in which to sit and enjoy the mild weather.  After washing and rinsing and drying the chairs, rosin paper was spread on the floor to protect it from splatters and spills; lights were turned on to guarantee a perfect job; paint clothes and gloves were donned to protect the painter from splatters and spills; and paint brushes were gathered and prepared to aid in the transformation of the chairs from the pedestrian brown to the color with pizzazz.

After applying two coats of paint to the two chairs,  the painter commented to a friend that the color was definitely not red, like the front door, and that it was pinky-red, and not a good pinky-red, either.  The friend went out to check the front door to get a basis for comparison.  Within a few minutes, the friend came back into the garage, and said, “The front door isn’t red, it’s pink or fuchsia.” Unbelieving, the painter looked at the top of the can, and “Yes!” it wasn’t tomato or fire engine red.  The official, real deal color on the paint can lid was “Fuchsine.”

Since the mystery of the color was solved, the painter put another two coats on the chairs, and after several days of painting, the chairs were ready for the porch and deck.  However, within a few days, the paint started to come off the edges of the chair arms, the back spindles of the chairs, and several other places.  Upset that all of the effort spent coating the chairs was for naught, the painter consulted the paint can, again.  There it was on the label, “Interior semi-gloss.”

So, for the big anniversary trip and dinner celebration, the painter and partner went to a favorite restaurant which just so happens to be where the magic paint store conducts business, and another can of paint marked, “Exterior semi-gloss,” was purchased.  Again, the cleaning, paper laying, brush gathering, and clothes changing ritual was performed, and another coat or two of paint was applied to the chairs.

Now, the “Fuchsine, Exterior Semi-Gloss” paint-coated chairs glisten and gleam on the porch.  The sweet potato vine in the planters looks so nice next to the “Fuchsine,” which has inspired another color choice for the deck and patio furnishings–lime green!

As the painter, like a fine wine, ages, the landscape is being filled with increasingly more bright colors no one expects.  An orange door made perfect sense for a backdrop for a bed of iris and lilies.  Imagine the surprise when the lilies–randomly planted with a field run of unlabeled bulbs–were shades of yellow and orange; perfectly complementing the door, and the terra cotta colored pots full of orange and yellow moss rose or portulaca.

The fuchsia and lime were a happy accident, and have been two perfect colors for a riotous bed of flowers that are both restful and stirring.  As Danny Kay, a comedian and artist, once said,

“Life is a great big canvas, throw all the paint on it that you can.”

Author: Prairie Writer

No one could have predicted that a fourth generation native Coloradoan, in love with the mountains, would migrate east to the Southeast corner of Iowa; and fall in love with rolling hills and fields. Ten years ago, my husband, the woodsman, and I moved to the 200-acre farm he had inherited in the early 1990s; where we built our dream house over a span of five or six years. One of my hobbies is teaching! Although I retired over ten years ago from being a full-time geography teacher, the teaching bug continues to flow through my veins. I have found the perfect way to teach—substituting—where I enjoy teaching something different every day I’m called. My other hobbies include reading any and every thing; planning and planting our flower gardens; sewing; being “crafty” and creative; finishing furniture pieces crafted by the woodsman; and writing. I was the editor for a pictorial book about Van Buren County, the first year we lived in Iowa. Additionally, I wrote two weekly columns for the local newspaper for eight years. Now, I look forward to writing regular posts about living in the country with a cat, a dog, and a woodsman in my blog, “Turn Left At The Cornfield.”

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