The last time I saw my bench, it lay dormant in the shed with the rest of last summer’s detritus. An old hose snaked over one arm. A dull stack of plastic flowerpots tilted in the seat, naked without their spills of red impatiens. A wolf spider jumped out of sight, foiled in her attempt to remain invisible.
It is a bench that minds its own business. It stays planted wherever I choose to heave it. In spring, it stands at attention before my fairy garden, waiting for the concert to begin. Perched here, I can watch the gradual entry of bleeding heart, rejoicing at the flowers but a little depressed at its sad name, as if the dangling cupid blooms were indeed the hearts of loved ones lost. But then I notice Lily-of-the-Valley breaking ground too, and the air fills with the sweet scent that will attract fairies from miles around. I hope they will join me in this safe place.
I applaud when the Mayapple makes its appearance. It disguises itself as a green cigar; elegant leaves wrapped tightly around its core like a tiny Dracula, preparing to sweep open its cape to reveal its white, waxy, blossom heart.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. The Mayapple won’t bloom until June, and here it is still early April with all her showers. My bench still awaits me, my lovely bench with the hummingbirds carved in iron on the back, swooping and humming at an enormous painted hibiscus. When I sit on my bench, I can feel the hummer’s wing edge along my shoulder blade, a nudge to sit up and take notice.
I breathe in pine-misted air. An invisible racetrack fills with competing robins vying for territory of the white oak branch. A Carolina Wren pops onto a twig, his rakish eye stripe giving him a nightclub appearance. Perking his tail in stiff salute, a chortling series of notes explodes from his elfin body, announcing his unmistakable intention to any other self-serving wren. The juncos twitter approval on the ground behind him, paying little attention as they pack suitcases for their trip north. There are no minutes, no hours here, just a response to the warming earth and a quickening of the life force within.
My bench lifts me up, supports me in my daily battles of life, both from within and without. It does it without complaining, expecting nothing in return. It waits for me when I am gone, and welcomes me when I return. In between, only the fairy garden and the birds know the secret of the hummingbird bench, but it is willing to take the weight of mine as well. It offers peace among the lilies, simplicity in the robin’s circular song, and grace in every ordinary moment.
I can’t wait to get it out of the shed.