A fragment of fence runs along our driveway where it turns off the road. Last spring a good carpenter built a bench there for us. It’s simple and attached to the fence.
In Anchorage I used to walk with the dog in the downtown neighborhood and appreciate the house with a bench as part of its fence. It seemed a welcoming spot, “a gift to the street,” a fence with a use besides keeping out.
Daffodils bloom by the bench this month. And daffodils star this month, fully emerged now they trumpet their yellows with notes mild and brassy, large and small, plain and multi-petalled. Because deer ignore them, I plant them anywhere, and in the years we’ve been coming here, they spread. From those collections of hundreds, the exotic eventually fail, but the stalwarts return, and they shout greetings from positions along the driveway and standing in clusters up by the house.
I drew a daffodil on our sign inviting people to sit on the bench, and tacked it under the Wildlife Habitat and No Pesticides signs. The sign says: “Sit if you can and enjoy the sunshine, the birds, and the trees – and pretty good cell phone reception.”
It took a while to catch somebody using it, but one day last summer walking to the mailbox, I saw a loose black dog at the end of the driveway, and then realized he belonged to folks sitting in the sun on the bench. One dark night as we drove in, the headlights picked up two brothers, grown-up inventor brothers, one visiting and one a neighbor, sitting companionably side-by-side. When I bought a handmade wreath from another neighbor to hang for the winter by the bench, she said: “Oh I love the bench.” And at a neighborhood picnic, a woman down the road told me she took a fine photo of her dog seated there.
I’m absurdly cheered by those moments – happy for that opportunity we made from a barren strip. I have fantasies about holiday lights in their season and drought-tolerant plantings by the bench. For now it’s a cheery daffodil moment at the end of a country road.