While taking shade on an old wooden bench under a canopy of maples, away from the
bright noon sun, I found a quiet calm. The child were out at school and adults out
at work and only I was there resting. The sparrows darted back and forth into the
shrubbery and squirrels chittering around the silent sigh of the trees as the breeze
I was left to myself in that breezy haze of the park.
And a man came along and sat down on this old wooden bench under the maples.
Intently studying the shifting of the flora and fauna, as the sparrows darted and the
squirrels chatted. How could they hold his attention so? I wondered, unfortunately
wondered aloud before I caught myself.
He turned and fixed his gaze upon me now. But it was not a stern look, of one who
has been offended. No, in his eyes was a warm light and his face and grizzy shadow
curled into a slight subtle smile. It was the kind yet amused look of someone who
"Thinking about nothing."
"Well, that doesn't make much sense now."
"Nope, not a mote of sense."
"I see." And he trailed off into his own little world. Silence passed for a few
Can you tell me?"
"Tell you what?"
"What you were thinking about nothing."
"Well," he trails once again. His head reels back slowly, arching towards the
A strong wind whipped up and startled the trees and the leaves clapped against
each other saying how rude it was.
"I could ask the same of you."
I was confused. Of me? What about what I am thinking?
"Well, I'm thinking about wondering what you are thinking about."
"Because it's odd to see someone come and sit in silence watching animals.
Especially here. There's hardly much here to see."
"Is that so?"
"Yes, you should go visit a national park or something! Lots of things there."
"Yeah. Here it's just a few birds and squirrels and whatever plants they throw in
to look pretty."
"What do you think of their attempt? I find it quite beautiful."
"It is beautiful, just not natural, you know what I mean?"
"True, but that tells you something, does it not?"
I sat and thought a while. It was a park, a garden of sorts. People planted the
shrubs and trees and flowers they thought pretty and melded well with each piece of
this set. What does this tell me? Silence once again permeated the air while I
thought, while he watched contentedly the birds.
"I guess it tells me what the person who runs this park thinks is good."
"Yeah, I guess he thinks tall maple trees shadowing old wooden benches, along a
brick path bracketed by simple shrubs and interrupted by the staccoto of the tulips
and pansies, is a good park."
"Yes, I can certainly see that."
"What about you? What are you thinking?"
"Do you think the park director really thought that?"
"Oh, well, I guess so. It would be his job to do that, right?"
"What about the squirrels and sparrows?"
"They take up homes everywhere, I guess they just moved in."
"Yeah, a lot like squatters, if you think of it that way. They're ok, but they
crap on everything and make it all messy."
"Yes, that is true."
"They've been trying to trap them and get them out. They say they have been
getting mean and trying to attack people for food."
"And what do you think of that?"
"I guess we can't have people mugged by sparrows, right? They're already being
mugged by other people, let alone a by squirrels."
His smile seemed to fade a little. Had I upset him?
"But! But I guess that's a bit mean since those animals are just trying to live."
Silence once again. He sat, staring now straight ahead, no longer focused upon
the animals, or me, or the sky. Sat pensive. Was he truly offended by what I had
just said, or just thinking whatever he refused to tell me? It was but seconds.
"Did you ever think of the park like you think the director thought of it?" He
asked, turning to me again. I was relieved, he seemed to be in better spirits.
"No, no not really. I just walk through here sometimes. I like it, it's nice."
"And why do you walk through it?"
"Well, it is a nice day out and I don't have any work today. I guess the
director's tastes are a lot like mine, so I like it here too."
"Those birds and animals, they don't think about much either."
"I assume so, they're just animals."
"But they enjoy this park just the same."
"They do live here."
"Where else would they live?"
"I have seen many birds elsewhere in less favorable places, I can only assume they
live somewhere there. So they do not all live here and places like it."
"Well, maybe they commute like people."
I swear, I could have seen him laugh. Picturing images of sparrows and pigeons
getting into traffic jams above their human counterparts, going to 'work'. I
supressed a giggle myself.
"You want to know what I think?"
"Oh yes! I've only been asking this entire time, silly!"
"Well..." Trailing off again, staring off into space, into that world of his that
seemed close but far away, mysterious. But I didn't press him, I never thought to.
He turned to me, and said, "I was thinking perhaps it is sometimes best if one
does not think too much about these kinds of things.
Sometimes, things are better left experienced.
I came here to watch the sparrows and squirrels go about,
Not caring or thinking.
And enjoy this nice spring day."
I was stunned. Had I been hoodwinked into being a fool? I certainly was! How
dare he lead me on like a piper from Bremen.
But as I thought about it, he was right. Did it really matter who thought to put
what into this small park? Or where to put it? And what its inhabitants thought or
lived? Wasn't it simply enough to sit and watch it unfold?
I closed my eyes and listened. I heard the sharp reports of the sparrow's wings
and each squirrel's fast paced musings to their neighbors. And the silent sigh of
the trees as each leaf went to and fro in the gentle warm breeze flowing past. Warm
like his smile. I could hear my own heart beating in the steady tempo of life.
I took a deep sigh.
And I opened my eyes.
But I was interrupted. A strong wind came again and startled the wildlife and
made the trees moan. A plastic bag carelessly floated by like a ghost of humanity,
carried along by the chances of the air.
He was gone.
I was left sitting upon the old bench under its maple canopy and in its green
environs, amidst the drumbeat of wildlife, all alone.
The wanderer never came back.