Thanks for the ‘gifts,’ but … Discarded furniture best omitted from beautiful winter scenes

By Aaron Miller

During the winter, Indiana can be quite picturesque. Although Colorado and Vermont get more attention for their winter landscapes, Indiana is often beautiful this time of year.

Winter wonderlands surround us. Indiana is blessed with clear frozen creeks and majestic icy lakes that beckon skaters. We drive along fields dotted with icicle-covered pine trees. As Hoosiers, we are treated to bucolic vistas of deer prancing through the snow.

The greatest treat of the winter season are snowy fields dotted with leather furniture. Nothing adds to the enchantment of the winter wonderland like a brown leather chair with torn upholstery.

The decorators do this work anonymously and with great humility.

Much like Santa Claus, they usually complete their work in the middle of the night. They take no credit. No one leaves a plate of homemade cookies nor a glass of milk for these generous roadside artists as they go about their appointed rounds.

Of course, this antique furniture provides a public service. It is a place to relax and drink a cup of coffee or cocoa if you need to sit down during a cross-country hike or if your car breaks down during your commute.

I am always impressed with the impeccable taste and decorating skills of these mysterious designers who brave the cold to leave rubbish and garbage for the rest of us to enjoy throughout the winter season. The mysterious decorators are also quite generous, for they place junk on someone else’s property.

It is quite breathtaking to watch the first snowfall of the year cover torn leather with a light dusting of snow. It is a moment to behold and save forever with a photograph. This is an image that you can post online or even use for your next holiday card.

Do not wait too long before taking a drive through the country or you might miss some of these scenes. We all know that a leather chair in a cornfield is a fleeting scene. After a few days, magical elves take old refrigerators, couches and bags of trash to the dump in the great beyond. Or perhaps these items just disappear on their own.

Every winter, I am delighted when artists take the time and effort to haul junk out to the countryside and throw it into a field or a ditch. I would not want them to take a used leather chair to Goodwill or the dump.

It would be a shame if someone took the time and effort to refurbish old furniture rather than place it ever so delicately along the side of the road for the rest of us to enjoy. It adds to the ambiance of the countryside.

After all, no one lives in the rural areas of Bartholomew County, therefore I really appreciate the hard work it takes to deposit furniture, rusting appliances or junk cars along country roads. It really spruces up the place.

Aaron Miller is one of The Republic’s community columnists and all opinions expressed are those of the writer. He has a doctorate in history and is an associate professor of history at Ivy Tech Community College — Columbus. Send comments to