I didn’t find or discover it. The bench has always been there. At least long enough to warp its 2X4 back and seat boards; weathered, dilapidated, repainted and carved into. The base is cement with pebbles of stone similar to the smooth round bean rocks found on the bay side of Cape Cod. The stones possess more than aesthetic purpose.
Most associate the term talisman as a charm, an idol, an amulet – something able to fit in a pocket, or on a bracelet, or necklace. I too have been protected by such means. The bench is security, an asylum, sanctuary. Though I find more when I am on it, around it, and know it is there. I travel to it. It is magical.
On the East side of the Northern arm of Lake of the Isles, where 22nd street runs into Lake of the Isles pkwy., down the sloping embankment from biking path to the walking path which encircles the lake, the bench is tucked away between adolescent oaks and surrounded by wild flowers and tall grasses that shield the bench from the walking path.
Sporadic, lonely; Iris, Day lilies, Snapdragons and various other flowers poke their way to life throughout the growing season only to die in a compost of matted down stalks, to rest again until spring.
This spring, heavy rains drown out most of the flowers and only today has the concrete base dried. The algae and soot of the receding lake water has partly dried into a smelly heap. Flies buzz frantically about the decay. Though I find relief that the water is gone and I am no longer required to take leaps of faith of soggy socks over the back of the bench. At least until it rains again, or the referendum to alter the lake passes.
Let me explain the referendum... briefly...
Some residents in the Minneapolis community surrounding Isles want the often flooded lake redesigned to its original swamp like appearance. By digging, filling in, chopping Willows
and removing my beloved bench, parties propose that the lake recreation area could be utilized in an efficient manner conducive to the natural landscape of the lake and for recreational purposes.
They may be right. Often runners of heavy steps run by the bench and I can feel the spongy ground shake with reverberations of motion, energy.
The fact remains that this change would remove my talisman
and most of the magic which resides within. I would inevitably feel a tremendous loss of self if the bench were gone.
How The bench and I came together….
An afternoon too many spring days ago, I rode my bicycle around the lake. Dressed in my rag of a rainbow rugby, Motorola racing cap, biking shorts covered with Umbros and my ol’ Adidas shoes, the Blue girl found me. As I rode in cadence, the buzz of the tire treads Vroooooming my senses into a dull, methodical trance, I heard a shout of my name. Braking, I stopped and turned around to peer through the growth of trees and shrub of berry bush to see her standing at the top of the stairs that link the paths on the Southern end of the lake. She had been running and showed in the rosy cheeks and the perspiration sticking her tank top to her sports bra. Clinging around her collarbone, rolling with substantial breath of secure breasts.
We knew one another from work. We had exchanged small talk and smiles. I was enraptured by the blue of her eyes along with the kindness and giggles she allotted to me. This was the first time I had seen her outside of work. I took my water bottle out of the cage, winded. My dry throat and lack of breath were not attributed to the exercise. I was swooning.
In her scratchy, sweet voice she asked with a giggle, “Getting some exercise?”
”Yeah, ” I answered, drooling some water, gasping, polite. “Want some water?”
Walking down the steps, brushing her hair behind her ear she reached out her hand, our finger tips brushing as she took the bottle and said. “Thanks”.
”I love Isles, it’s my favorite by far. I’ve been riding around it every day.” I somehow stammered.
”Me too” she said. “I live right by here but I usually run in the morning.” Pausing, looking away”But I roller bladearound Calhoun, the path isn’t as rough.”
/me interrupting…”Hey, I just moved to 27th and Grand, it’s not bad and we go to CC Club all the time, we should meet up sometime.” /me squeaky voice.
”Absolutely” The blue girl answered half heartedly. “I’m pretty busy, but I’m sure I’ll see you.”
”Ok, well, I’m on my way. See you soon. Bye.”and off I rode, speeding around the lake hoping to catch her again.
The next day, I rode at the same time. No blue girl. I rested at a bench wondering if she might run by. She didn’t. The next day, the same and the next too. Thus began my relationship with the bench. An obsession of chance. Just idling time, not pining for her, just waiting for a miracle, for her. As seasons and time progressed, the bench became my sanctuary, a place to be, where I was protected, alone and safe.
She did come there once. And the miracles continue to happen.
more to come....