|Hammer and Nike cardboard box|
The act of some vandals very early yesterday morning propelled my life in an unexpected direction. For me, the incident started with a call from my son, Charles.
His voice was hushed and anxious, his call unusual; he had driven off to school only ten minutes previously. Apparently, he pulled over to make this call. However, Charles was slow getting to the point. I interrupted him, “Are you alright? Has there been an accident?” “No, no, Mom, I’m fine. The thing is, it looks like someone burnt the bench at the foot of the driveway.” Our house is situated at the top of a quarter mile drive up a mountainside. For close to seven years, we have had a bench at the bottom because it helps visitors identify our property. The notion that the bench had been burnt seemed ridiculous. We live in a tiny, friendly, rural town. To my knowledge, we have not made enemies with anyone. I told Charles I was going to call the police. My husband was traveling; I was at the helm. Charles suggested that I first go down the drive and take a look. I told him to have a good day and I would take care of things.
I decided to drive down because my legs were a little unsteady. My first view of the bench was over the hood of the car. It looked a lot like a jack o’lantern with its teeth missing. The vandals had knocked out many of the vertical pieces that were aligned in order to form the back. As I got closer, I saw they had created a fire using those pieces of wood. Whether deliberate or accidental, I couldn’t say, but the fire had eaten away a hole in the seat of the bench, for all the world, it looked like a toilet! When I got out of the car, I could see a few objects strewn near by: a beer bottle, an iced tea can (extra large), a Twizzlers wrapper and cardboard from a Nike box. There, under the burnt remnant of the bench were the words, “Just do it.”
As a result of what the responding officer suggests were carousing boys, our bench was no longer viable for anything but scrap wood. I went down with my hammer and knocked what remained apart. I neatly packed it into a box to take to the dump. The box was much lighter than I anticipated when I hoisted it into the car to take to the dump. After I left the dump, I secured some mulch and a hanging plant. I could feel my stamina dwindling as this project progressed. Never-the-less, I persisted in completing the task at hand. I raked out the coal and ashes from the fire., then spread three bags of mulch to hide the offending remnants of some nameless boys’ mischief. I pounded a six-foot shepherd’s crook into the ground and hung a plant -- which I then wired to the post. I took one last look, gathered the bags from the mulch, watered the plant, and then threw the rake in the car before heading back up the quarter mile to my house. I used the sixty seconds it took to get to the top to say a prayer for those misguided boys, for their families, and then, one last plea for the safety of my loved ones and our property.
It occurred to me how much went into righting what had been done wrong. Once inside, I was depleted for the remainder of the day. All of this was the result of one thoughtless strike of a single match.