“I come from the long ago. I’m not really sure how old I am. I remember Indian camps, dusty roads, ox-carts, horses, wagons, stagecoaches, and travelers on foot. About 1890 or so it was, so I am told, when I was cut down at last – “virgin timber,” they called me. Seemed to prize me greatly, declaring me “just right.” Not until later did I learn that only certain extremely tight grain trees – such as fir, cypress, redwood, and pine – were considered good enough for pickle barrels.
They put me to work in a pickle factory, filled with pickles and pickle brine. You’d be amazed how popular I was! Time passed and I was emptied, dried out, and rudely left to rot. But I didn’t. Horseless carriages chugged by, cars whizzed by, and much later, jet planes screamed far overhead, leaving cloudy trails behind.
I truly thought my life was done, but not so – about a hundred years after I was first filled with pickles, I was picked up and hauled in a truck to a small carpenter shop on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. This time my destiny was to become a bench. But not just any bench – no indeed! But rather one lovingly created by craftsmen and an architect, of all things! I was intended to retain the natural roundness of the barrel I had been so long. Even the staves came along; they were fashioned into legs. Nowadays, my bench brethren are being built by trained inmates at Western Maryland Correctional Institution.
So here I am, in this beautiful place. Serene, isn’t it? A place in which to dream, to meditate, to recover from stress and trauma, a place in which to reconnect. Lean back, Stranger, and rest. In me is the strength of half a millennium; permit me to share it with you. But in me too is peace and tranquility.
Do not leave me until that strength and peace comes to you. Underneath you will find a Journal. Join with others who have sat here and recorded their thoughts, impressions, fears, hopes, and dreams. And, when you do leave me, don’t stay away long. I’ll be here, waiting for you – in this sacred place.”