I have a little bench, outside our backdoor. It’s sheltered from the wind and rain and it’s where I like to sit and think. I look up at the changing sky, the mostly ever-green trees and watch the season’s change. Listening to the cicadas in summer and the birds cavorting with one another. I think about my past, the present and the future. I think often about friends and family.
I don’t get the chance to sit for long. During the day I might take a cuppa and watch the girls play in the garden. Our cat, Blacky, is never far away and always seeks out my lap. In the evening I enjoy a few sips of red wine and gaze up at the stars. There is little light pollution to dampen their glory.
I sit and think of friend’s Birthdays that I didn’t forget, in my mind, but forgot to write to and say, ‘I’m thinking of you.’. In ten year’s of living in New Zealand I am so fortunate to still be in touch with many of my former school and university friends. We don’t write often and Birthday cards are now infrequent and have been replaced with e-mails and ‘Facebook’ (all the better for the environment is a good excuse – but in reality a real card in the mail-box always gives more joy). But when I visit England the closeness we’ve maintained over these years rings true in the ease we find when meeting again. Our conversations take off with natural flow and we know enough of each other’s lives to talk meaningfully of the present, as well as reminisce on the fun of the past.
When we visited my Mum and Dad’s house last year I delighted in their little bench outside the back-door. We are so far apart in distance, but I often think of my parents and I sitting on our respective little benches and feel a closeness that can only be felt when looking at the clouds above racing around the earth.
I don’t keep a hectic social diary in the present time. The girls keep me busy enough. I sometimes wonder if all this thinking of friends far-away is all healthy and that perhaps I should focus on building more friendships here. But I find myself holding back. Just because my friends of old aren’t living round the corner, it doesn’t mean their friendship is of any less importance to me. A social diary can be more than evening’s out. I’ve always loved writing and to be able to communicate with friends that know me and with whom I can really be myself is equally as fulfilling as an evening out with people I barely know. I can share laughter, tears and inspiration with friends through writing equally as well as immediate conversations in their presence. Granted, I’d prefer to give them a big hug!
I think of all the benches I’ve sat on that hold memories and meaning to me. I think of the benches around the world that honour lives before mine and what that bench in that garden or viewpoint meant to them.
Some of the benches that bring the best memories to me;
Cape Tribulation, Australia, where I sat for three days watching the warm, constant curtain of water from the comfort of the bar at our back-packer accommodation [PK’s Jungle Village]. People around me sat reading, writing in their journals or simply watching the rain with glazed eyes far away in thought.
The River Itchen in Winchester, where I’d take my lunch every day for the year I was back in England. It was 1998/1999. Dan and I married in May 1999 and a call for him to return to New Zealand came a couple of month’s later. That year was full of reflection and thought for the future. I would watch every ripple in the water and delight in the play of the ducks, the elegant swans and the peace of the weeping willows. The grand oak trees held the secrets of thousands of people from years of old that had also come to the river to enjoy its bounty.
The cliff-top and pier in Penarth, South Wales, where I spent years visiting my wonderful Grandparents and delighted in the wildness of the Severn Estuary.
The ‘Soundshell’ in the Botanical Gardens where I worked for the World Wide Fund for Nature for two year’s and enjoyed many happy lunch-times delighting in the natural beauty and sounds of laughter from young children.
A little tree-stump, one of four, in my parent’s garden. The seats surround a table, also made from the trunk of an old oak tree that sadly needed to be cut down. I used to love sitting there and thinking about fairies! Another favourite spot was under the beautiful canopy of a weeping willow in my parent’s garden. Tragically, the tree got blown over in a huge storm – so that little thinking spot was never the same (but it is always in my memories!).
And so many more…
What benches (or the like) bring happy memories and thoughts for you?