Bench to Nowhere

Greenway trail at Nathan Mott Park, Block Island: Photo by Noelle

Greenway trail at Nathan Mott Park, Block Island: Photo by Noelle

I was hiking a trail at the Nathan Mott Park while vacationing on Block Island; a small island off the coast of Rhode Island. The trail was well maintained, but heavily wooded. No clear cutting or control burns have ever happened there. Thus, the bramble was thick and dense. Suddenly, I stumbled upon a bench, sitting in the middle of the trail, about half way in. It faced the bramble, with no apparent other view.

I stopped and looked around. It seemed an odd place to have a seat. I thought to continue my journey, but something about how the sun rested upon the seat called to me. I sat down. I was correct there was no other view, but the dense thicket. I decided to give it some time.

Wildlife knows when hikers have hit a trail. Alert calls go out to any who can hear to beware, a human is afoot. If you are lacking a quiet presence when you step into nature, you aren’t likely to have many unusual encounters with wildlife. Sit for a time though, and wood life begins to forget you are there and marches onward.

Deer flies lost interest and continued down the path. Bees returned to the wild rose and thistle. The alarming squawking that had followed me from crow to jay, had subsided and now the wood was filled with bird’s singing their daily stories of berries and dragonflies. Rather than the stir of my own progress I now heard the steady movement of the wind through the trees. The sun came and went as it winked between the branches above. The moment was peaceful without the least bit of silence.

When I was younger I did not understand the power of stillness or the value of doing nothing or going nowhere. That stillness is full and rich, rather than dull and silent, as my youthful mind considered. I don’t know who thought to put the bench in the middle of the trail, but I suspect they were someone like me. Someone who had come to appreciate that sitting in the middle of nowhere, looking at nothing in particular, is likely the best seat there is.