Several times a week, three old Indian men congregate on the bench across the street from my house. They slowly stroll to the bench from their various homes, sit and chat in thick accents. I wave hello to them and smile as I do yard work, but I have talked to them only a couple of times. Yesterday, however, one of the gentlemen stopped me as I was putting a trashcan by the curb. “The neighbors took away the bench,” he told me with surprise and disappointment. Where would his friends and he meet now?
I happen to have a teak bench beneath a glorious old, beautifully-shaped maple tree in the middle of my yard. I sit on the bench sometimes and write or think, enjoying the sunlight through the bare branches in winter and the shade of the leaves in summer. However, I don’t use the bench often…not really…so I offered to reposition it to an area on my property across from where the gentlemen normally meet. I wanted to give them a new place to sit and watch the passersby. The man seemed very pleased.
After he left, I walked to the maple, picked up the bench, and moved it beneath another tree, a more convenient location for the men. I am actually a little wistful about moving the bench from my favorite spot, but I could always bring a chair over there. I’d like the men to have a place to meet, rest and talk. It has always struck me as a lovely gathering of friends, something I hope to do still when I am old.