Wednesday, July 8, 2009

BENCH SEAT

It is evening here. The sun is slipping behind the sycamores lining the opposite bank of my modest river. The light is falling, softening, becoming less contrasty as it changes to a glowing golden green.

I’ve spent most of the day indoors, working, peering out longingly through the window near my desk at the moving water, sunlight sparkling on the pools, watching squirrels bound around the yard and hummingbirds hover and sip homemade nectar from the feeders. Occasionally something would startle one of the great blue herons wading the shallows, and the big bird would lift with a squawk and go flapping off, following the river.

When the burden of my necessary imprisonment became overpowering, I would pause in my typing to go outside for a break—sit in the hot sun, walk around the yard or along the riverbank, check out flowers or trees. The dogs appreciated a brief outing, too.

Now, desk work completed, as the day draws to a close and the pace of life along the riverbank has already slowed with the fading light, I’m going to head outside again and relax there until dark.

Usually I sit in my rocker on the deck, where I can watch the big pool in front of the cottage and the steep riffle just upstream. This evening, however, I plan to take my ease from the bench at the top of the little knoll—a couple hundred feet from the house, at the property’s downstream corner.

The bench sits on a little grassy patch shaded by a clump of large sycamores and a fair tangle of various volunteer seedlings I’ve allowed to grow, which serve to shield the spot until it’s almost hidden from view from the water. An intimate green pocket—like a secret room—from which I can see out without passersby being about to see in. I can observe everything from heron to muskrats, wading fishermen to passing canoeists and kayakers.

Along with the bench, there’s a chiminea up here, too—one of those cast-iron outdoor fireplaces my son-in-law’s father gave us for Christmas a couple of years ago. On cool autumn evenings it’s nice to build a stick fire, scoot the bench close, and bask in the little stove’s radiant heat as colored leaves rattle earthwards, owls hoot from the darkness, and a big harvest moon goes rolling across the sky.

Of course, seeing as how this is July, I’m not planning on lighting a fire in the chiminea this evening.

Instead, I’ll kick back on my bench, sip whatever it is I’ve brought along, and watch all the interesting delight the evening holds. Swallows working the air above the pool? Ducks winging hurriedly upstream, low to water, their quick wingbeats making a silky scratching sound? A smallmouth feeding above the riffle? A whitetail deer slipping like a pale shadow along the path which borders the edge of the island across the narrow channel?

Only time will tell…and right now, while the light is still good, it’s time for me to take my bench seat and enjoy the show.

[This is for Raph, of Raph's Ramblings, whom I promised some time ago that I'd do a posting about my bench.]

34 comments:

Jain said...

And the mosquitoes allow you bench time?? Astonishing!

Enjoy your sit!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jain…

I hate to tell you this, having seen your blog photo of your mosquito-proof gardening outfit…but I rarely see a mosquito here. It has been that way every summer since I moved here. I have no idea why—birds, bats, a bug-sucking river monster? No idea.

BUT…I've just spent more than an hour on my bench—entirely mosquitoless. I kid you not.

KGMom said...

Scribe--whatever held you captive indoors, I am glad you escaped long enough to enjoy the evening.

Your sanctuary scene sounds and looks SO inviting. I fear that were I to have such a place whatever task lay inside would be pushed aside.

Val said...

Wow, something about that image... something calls to me... I'm not usually one to "wish" to be in another place but, I have to say, that right at this very moment, I wish I was sitting right there on that very bench with that exact view.

Bernie said...

I would love a bench like yours to sit on and enjoy all that nature has to offer, enjoy my friend. You truly live in paradise....:-) Hugs

The Weaver of Grass said...

Scribe - I expect Raph is just as full of envy as I am - what a lovely sheltered spot from which to watch wildlife unobserved - with a glass in your hand - and mosquitoless - that sounds perfect heaven to me,

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

KGMom…

Ignoring the outside—at least to the point of chucking whatever it is I'm doing and GOING outside—is tough sometimes. And it often works out as a sort of a cosmic joke, that the days I have to work at my desk are the pretty ones, and as soon a I get my work done…those days are filled with storms.

Or so it seems…

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Val…

If I could, I'd give you that sit on my bench, because I understand that urge—that sudden need and desire—to be RIGHT THERE. Wherever "there" is…

The hidden bench with the river view is a pretty good place to be sometimes.

Wanda said...

I loved your bench spot by the river...it's like a "little get away" within your larger "get away property"...the grouping of the trees behind the chiminea would have drawn me to that spot.
I only have the sound of a rushing creek once in awhile, after a heavy rain...that's why we have a few fountains to assimulate the peaceful sound of moving water.
You have the best naturally!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bernie…

It is a lovely place, for sure. And I do feel so blessed to live here. But in the end, it is merely a modest place on a (usually) tranquil river, with both beauty and problems; not perfect, not paradise.

I often feel as those this old stone cottage and I "found" one another. We know and appreciate each other's strengths, and forgive or work around each other's weaknesses. Each taking what we can from the other, doing our best…but understanding that in the end, the bond can only be temporary.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Weaver…

It was the place to sit yesterday evening, for sure. Which was about all I had left in me before a quick bit of supper and bed…a good sit.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Wanda…

I like having—finding or creating—these little hideaway spots, unexpected pockets, small surprises within the larger context.

The knoll with the bench is elevated perhaps five feet above the rest of the yard. (Not counting the fact the whole place is about twenty feet below the road. So my eastern boundary is this one long, steep bank, densely wooded; and negotiating the driveway, a graveled two-track, can be an interesting endeavor come winter thick with ice and snow.)

Anyway, the view from the bench knoll is entirely different—almost lofty—with a perspective of cottage and stream unlike that from anywhere else in the yard.

sound of water in

Gail said...

Hi Grizz-

I love the bench time you describe. I can see through your eyes that which surrounds you. I am content.
Love and peace
Gail

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

Thank you. Content is good.

I'm up and at 'em for the day; have been for four hours. I'll be ready for some contentment of my own by mid-afternoon.

Take care…

KGMom said...

Scribe--you have some funky HTML issues on your blog. Any idea why?

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

KGMom…

Issues? Everything looks fine from here. I just tried Safari and Firefox, which are the only two current browsers I have, and all appears as it should.

So you got me. Is anyone else having problems? And if so, what sort?

And thanks for alerting me—although at the moment I don't exactly know how to fix what I can't see.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

Oh, thank you so much, Grizzled - I am honoured! I was so enjoying reading your bench post, and then saw your 'for Raph' at the end!

This is indeed a wonderful secret spot. I love the idea of the 'volunteer seedlings' hiding the place from passersby. And even a little stove - how perfect! Observing all the 'interesting delight' - how idyllic. I wonder what you decided to take along to sip? On a summer night I would have a tall glass of lemonade with a measure of aniseed liqueur!

I think I'll sit outside under the kitchen window now, and listen to the breeze rustling the leaves of the Forest!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Raph…

I kept mulling around what to do regarding the bench…and mulled way longer than I intended. Sorry to be so slow.

A rather mundane drink, I'm afraid—especially compared to your lemonade with aniseed liqueur, which sounds oddly interesting, though I've never heard of the combination. I had fresh-ground and French-pressed coffee, cream, no sugar; not even Irish coffee. But good for what ailed me…

PERBS said...

I saw a link from Ralph over on Rune's blog and since I love benches, I just had to drop by. I was mesmerized reading your beautiful words about your secret bench and the blessings it bestows upon you. I am a bench lover and think everyone that can should have their own bench like you do. I am very jealous of your special bench retreat.

RuneE said...

That seems be be the ideal way to spend an evening - and the placement and the style of the bench underscores that.

Pure balsam for a weary soul.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

PERBS…

I love benches, too—which is why I have two of them (the one in the photo and a second at the end of my sidedeck, but also overlooking the river) and am planning to build another for the yard area (another river view) on the opposite, upstream side of the cottage.

Benches are, to me, open invitations to sit, rest, contemplate, and if you're with someone, have one of those quiet, meaningful conversations in which the silent, in-between pauses while you watch the water slip along—as in my case here at Riversong—are important because they allow ample time to choose your words and check in with your emotions and thinking.

The world definitely needs more benches…

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

RuneE…

It is a wonderful way to wind down from the day…though one of these evenings, I'm probably going to relax to the point where I nod off, and not reawaken until God knows when.

But I love my bench. And you're right, it is comfortable and placed for the view.

Barbara Martin said...

I have come via Raph to find a bench in a delightful spot with a water view and a stove should evenings prove chilly.

anne partain said...

Hello, I felt so calm reading your words about your bench. I felt for a moment that I joined you there by the water. Thank you.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Barbara…

You have, indeed, clicked your way to my comfortable riverbank bench. And you're always welcome to return…

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

anne…

Perhaps you did, vicariously, join me for a moment t on my riverbank bench. Or simply found, in your own place and time, that soft calm and gentle peace which I regularly encounter while seated upon my bench at twilight.

Carolyn H said...

Nice bench, Griz. I see the code issues, too. Between each paragraph there's a line of code. Weird that apparently not everyone sees it.

Carolyn H.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Carolyn…

Thank you re. bench post.

The code issues are a real puzzle, as I don't see them at all. If you would—or if anyone who does see these code lines would do me this favor—tell me how far back, or if the problem goes back, for more than a couple of weeks…or is it just the most recent postings?

The reason I ask is I did download and install an update of Firefox sometime last week (I don't think it was any earlier than that). Since Firefox is my usual browser, and the one I use to copy my draft from Word and post to Blogger, maybe that's the culprit.

I'll try and remember to use Safari for all future posts, and see if that makes a difference. But as I said earlier, I don't see a problem at all on my laptop or desk machine using both Firefox and Safari. And God knows, I'm no computer whiz. I can't even spell HTML.

Kelly said...

...absolutely beautiful. I love walking the banks of the Little Miami River and am there all the time, but I can only imagine how wonderful it would be to live on a river! I would never get any work done. My favorite sentence: "On cool autumn evenings it’s nice to build a stick fire, scoot the bench close, and bask in the little stove’s radiant heat as colored leaves rattle earthwards, owls hoot from the darkness, and a big harvest moon goes rolling across the sky." You've carved out a little bit of heaven...

Jayne said...

It's as if we are right there with you. Your writing is such a gift. Thank you for letting us "set a spell" with you Grizz. :c)

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Kelly…

If you like the Little Miami, you'd feel at home along this stream—although, having spent considerable time on the Little Miami—including a day a couple of weeks ago—I do recognize a different character between the two streams. Throughout its length, I'd say this river is more pastoral in nature.

My favorite "bench time" is indeed reflected in that sentence you singled out—for autumn somehow seems the perfect time to sit on this bench atop the little knoll and watch the season drift downstream with the patchwork leaves. But I sit here in midwinter, too, when the ground is luminous with snow, the air brittle as glass, and stars glitter like scattered jewels in an inky night sky. It is a wonderful place to shuck the everyday cares of living while considering the purpose and blessings of life.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jayne…

You're welcome. I'm always glad to have someone "sit a spell" with me.

I'm glad the writing worked…

Rita said...

Just dicovered your blog and am enjoying reading some posts. Thanks for sharing. Rita

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Rita…

Glad to have you join us here on the riverbank, and I'm pleased you've enjoyed your first visit. I hope you'll return. You're always welcome.