Of Sunsets and Street Finds


…which have nothing to do with each other, of course, except that both begin with S.

See above for last night’s beaut over Montauk’s Fort Pond Bay, where I ate what will probably be the season’s last lobster dinner. I’m back in my Springs (East Hampton, N.Y.) cottage following a successful August rental. All went without a hitch (for me as the landlady, anyway — the tenants decamped a bit early because of impending Irene).

I’m glad to be back, even though my garden looks somewhat bedraggled and blah, lacking the sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ and other things that would be adding color this time of year. I spent most of yesterday chasing deer out of my backyard — need I say more?


As for the fortuitous street find, I’d been looking for a coffee table for my Springs living room at yard sales and in thrift shops, but I got away even cheaper. As I was packing my car in Brooklyn for the trip out here last Monday evening, I saw on the sidewalk, not two feet from where I was parked, the wrought iron and glass coffee table in the photos above and below.We sure have some great garbage in NYC!


This table is not exactly “me” — I might have passed it up at a yard sale, even for $20, as it’s of indeterminate age (could even be vintage Pottery Barn) and I had been thinking “rattan.” But it’s the perfect size and shape, and in tip-top condition, so I walked two steps, bent down, and lifted it into the hatchback of my trusty Honda Fit. I think it totally works on the sisal rug.


I’d also like to call your attention to the sculptural object on the high ledge, above. It’s the contorted remains of a Harry Lauder Walking Stick (Corylus contorta), an unusual deciduous shrub I like to call simply ‘the Harry.’ Planted a couple of years back, it didn’t survive in the ground — not sure why. Conveniently, however, this is a plant that looks better dead (or bare of leaves in winter).


Sulla Strada

c. 1920s glass-door bookcase, found on Clinton Street, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, about 10 years ago

C.1920s glass door bookcase, found on Clinton Street, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn

SULLA STRADA: that’s the title, in Italy, of Jack Kerouac’s best-known book, On the Road.

To Adrienne Grande, a reader of this blog who recently bought a fab 1810 Greek Revival house in Greenport, Long Island, it means something other than a drug-fueled cross-country road trip. Adrienne e-mailed that she has been furnishing with pieces “collected here and there or found sulla strada, i.e. on the street.”

“Sulla strada sounds so much more refined,” she wrote, “than ‘Someone threw it out and I took it!'”

I love the phrase and I’m stealing it. Some of my favorite things have been found, over the years, sulla strada. See these pictures for proof.

Four-piece rattan sectional sofa, marked Ficks Reed, plus matching armchair (not shown), found on Dean Street in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn

Antique Caucasian kilim, found among the trash cans on Henry Street, Brooklyn Heights

Enamel top, carved base, 1930s kitchen table, found on Henry Street, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, about 15 years ago

1930s enamel top kitchen table with carved base, found on Henry Street, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn

One must never be too proud to go dumpster-diving. People throw out the most amazing things. New York City sidewalks are famous for great trash.

What about you? Ever found anything sulla strada?