My recliner is my ‘land of counterpane’

Published 5:55 pm Wednesday, August 21, 2019

I spent the better part of the past weekend (actually Thursday through Sunday) battling a sever cough, fever and chills in my special land of counterpane.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term “land of counterpane,” it refers back to a poem by English poet and author Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem, “The Land of Counterpane,” that describes his time in bed when he was sick, transforming it into a magical land where he allowed his imagination to roam.

My land of counterpane is no magical land, nor is it as large as a bed.

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It is my faithful aging maroon recliner, which sits on one side of our living room and has served as my bed, back pain cure and a place to relax. It creaks and groans, its reclining movements are slow and stiff from age and it no longer swivels. One night last week I heard a popping noise coming from the bottom of the chair. But it does its job.

I don’t know how old it is. It came with a motley collection of furniture donated to us by one of my wife’s relatives to help up replace what we lost in Hurricane Katrina, and however old it was when we got it, I’ve added 14 years to it.

At first, it took awhile getting used to; my other recliner (which I also inherited) had a smoother action and was bit larger. The action on this “new” recliner wasn’t as quick and wasn’t as smooth. The handle to elevate the front of the chair was awkward to move.

Those problems soon evaporated as I grew more accustomed to the chair and learned how to settle myself into it.

It proved to be a very adequate successor to my previous chair, and was very good at causing “paw-paw’s disease.”

For the uninitiated, paw-paw’s disease is that condition that leads one to become very relaxed and very drowsy, ending in a condition causing one to sleep, or become “dead to the world.”

I have had more than my share of succumbing to paw-paw’s disease since getting adjusted to my chair, which has resulted in teasing from my wife and daughter, but I really don’t care. My naps have helped me relax after the stress of the day.

But this week, my chair proved to be my saving grace. I came down with whatever passes for the crud this time of year, and the only place I could get relief and a reasonable facsimile of sleep was in the old recliner. I got in, positioned my pillow behind my head, covered my legs with a light blanket and kicked back. With an elevated head I was able to breathe, and was able to relax. It felt good.

Years ago, when I worked on the Coast I remember a court bailiff telling me, “When you get older, get yourself a good recliner. I can’t sleep in my bed sometimes, but I can sleep in my recliner.”

He was right.

John Surratt is a staff writer for The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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