Friday, September 12, 2008

The Empty Bench

Friday, September 12, 2008

It's a dark morning here on the mountain. The thermometer reads 52 degrees with a slight wind and a dampness that walked with Karl the Wonder Dog and me as we headed down the woods trail. Although the weather folks say rain by late today, I can only hope for that prediction as I have a long list of things to do and rain-free until 5 would make it easier.

Gail just headed to the statehouse in Montpelier for a speaker on autism that she wanted to hear. Autism prevails in our family so we try to learn every resource, hear every new methodology possible. Gail is a like sponge with this information and she always remembers the appropriate time to share it with a new friend who just received a diagnosis in their family and knowns not where to turn. No matter what my schedule, I am quick to modify my day so she can attend. Just thinking about this reminds me that I have to update our Autism page on the Vermont Flower Farm website. We have lots of new resources since I last looked.

If you happened to read The Vermont Gardener yesterday, my post Gardening Respite described our trip to Maine and my walk through the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. No matter where I travel, I always meet gardeners and they are always quick to develop relationships and share information.

As I walked the refuge trails, I came down the path to stop number three where I have met the same man for the past two years. As I approached this time, the bench upon which he always sat was empty. I had an immediate feeling of sadness for a man I had come to know only on a couple brief visits.

Two years ago, same week, same time, I met the man sitting on the bench looking out to the marsh. As we talked we shared that we both came to Maine the same time of year and had been doing so for some years. The man was a Korean War vet and he had lung cancer. He was positive about his treatment but I could tell that the absence of his wife who had recently passed was an additional burden. He said walking the refuge gave him a sort of refuge from daily life and it brought back memories of the two of them walking the trail together.

Last year we got into a gardening discussion. He shared that he was a vegetable gardener and I said I was too busy with flowers to even plant a row of lettuce or a single tomato. At the end of our talk, we both said we'd follow each other's advice and try growing something different. He said he's look for me again, and God willing we'd meet. We shook hands and parted, me for the car, him still watching the marsh.

As I gave up waiting and headed down the path, my mind processed all the reasons he wasn't there this year. I missed our conversation but I know sometime we will meet again.

From the mountain above Peacham Pond where damp eyes run even for gardeners.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener