The worst thing that can happen to an athlete is to be sent to the bench. Hmmm, upon reflection, perhaps there are worse things (see any article about Tiger Woods). But “sit on the bench” is certainly not the direction a team player wants to hear from the coach. It can mean you aren’t up to snuff and someone else could do a better job. Or you are tired and need a break. Or even that you have a bad attitude and are being reprimanded. Maybe this explains my reluctance to park myself on one in the garden. Shades of high school athletics-past surfacing to haunt me. “But coach, just give me another chance….”
When I’m on a roll in the garden, getting things done left and right, the sun beating down, and a headache looming (see picture above), my eyes do sometimes furtively dart to the bench nearest me. “No” I think, “I can keep going.” Sporting allusions aside, I don’t know why I’m so averse to taking a seat on those benches. It’s not as if they are rickety, splinter laden, or uncomfortable. Part of an outdoor dining set, they are quite fetching and the best Mother’s Day gift I have ever received. When I was in the market for outdoor furniture, I snootily announced that nothing but teak would do. That meant doing without, as finding teak for sale in Alaska is like finding a Tasmanian wolf: people think they’ve seen it, but it hasn’t been scientifically proven in fifty years. I struck furniture gold with an ad from the classifieds for a used set. One trip with the truck, trailer attached, made all my furniture dreams come true: not just one, but three benches and four chairs to lounge about in. If only.
Maybe I watch too much nature-related TV. I am reminded of lions eyeing the dusty multitudes in the wildebeest throng from the shelter of the tall grasses. Then an individual with a weakness to cut from the herd and attack is spotted. I don’t need to tell you what happens next. [Random design aside: I do favor backing benches and chairs up to tall plantings. Like lions, I favor grasses, but shrubbery works for me, too. I find plantings over three feet the most satisfying to nestle a bench next to, and plantings under two feet prone to induce a fight-or-flight response at the least sound.] Sitting on my bench is like a giant psychological concession to the garden lions. I am in a weakened state, take me down. And so the benches and chairs are well placed and inviting, but only ever fleetingly glanced at. The lions are watching. So is coach.
My empty chair, above, keeping the (compulsory) blue tarp and kids company, circa 2008.
Any lonely benches or chairs in your garden?
Check out some other bench stories at Gardening Gone Wild.