Benchmarks

A bench is like an old shoe.  Whether in use at the moment…

…or long since abandoned…

…its former occupants leave their mark.

All over the world, these are the true thrones of the people.

They provide company…

…entertainment…

…a sense of belonging…

…a place to rest…

…to reflect…

…to escape the worries of the workaday world…

…or not.

Oh, the stories they have heard…

The sights they have seen…

Those benches have been warmed by the flesh and blood of people who have loved…

…and sometimes lost. Who’s to say?


But the next time you see one, sit and rest a spell.  As you take the bench, and watch the world go by, don’t judge too harshly.

Listen to the stories it has to tell.  They won’t be so very different from your own.

All words and images copyright 2013 Naomi Baltuck.

Click here for more interpretations of Travel Words Bench Series#9.

Click here for more interpretations of the Weekly Travel Theme: Benches.

91 Comments

    1. Thank you! I have been fascinated by benches, not so much for their design, although there are some incredible photos of really wild and interesting benches. But I have been fascinated by their natural ability to attract folks to a central and public gathering place.

  1. Naomi, your photo essays are, among many other things, a lesson to me about being conscious of Theme. That’s the hardest part about creating a new story: identifying “What’s it about?” But until I do manage to define the theme, the story is only a montage of interesting bits. As soon as I know the name of the thread that holds these bits together, the story starts to breathe. I love to see how you recycle some of your images, how they dance from one thread to another.

    1. You’re right about that, Megan. Before I start working on a story, I ask myself what it is that I want to say. Sometimes I have only a vague idea, but I start pulling the pieces together anyway. When I first started blogging, I used to worry that I would run out of things to say, stories to tell. Would this post be as good as the last one?

      Now I just dive in, confident that the deeper meaning and message of the story will find its way to the light. One of the things I do when I tackle a photo challenge or take on a particular theme is to look for an angle that goes beyond the obvious, or to give it just a little different perspective.

      I try not to recycle images too often, but sometimes a photo is too perfect not to include, even if I’ve used it elsewhere. The new story gives it a new purpose and another perspective. As a professional storyteller, you know that the story is always primary, and that the story, not the words you use to tell it, is what your audience will carry home in their hearts.

  2. Awesome perspective. I never thought about all the things the benches I’ve rested on have experienced. 🙂 You always make me see more than I do. Thanks Naomi!

  3. Naomi,
    This was absolutely amazing!! What a great job you did (again) interpreting the theme, and telling a story too! I will never look at a bench the same way again – who knew that there could be so many hidden stories in the life of a bench!
    You have an amazing gift! Thank you for sharing it with the world! The photos, the words, all very, very nice!

    1. Dear Becky,
      When someone tells a writer she had helped them to look at the world differently,I hope in a good way or with increased awareness, they have paid the ultimate compliment. Thank you so much for visiting, and for especially for taking the time to leave such thoughtful comments.

    1. Hi Patti,
      I did a lot of searching through many years’ of photographs pulled from all over the world, but I knew I had taken those photos for a reason, and I couldn’t resist the challenge.
      Thank you so much for your visit, and for sharing your very kind comments.

  4. Your answer to the bench challange has been so interesting and fun to view. Your pictures capture the “spice of life” that I find so endearing. Take care, Naomi!
    Elisa

  5. As usual, I love the text you have with your photos. As a photographer, I love that you have these pictures, that you thought to take them. They represent to me everyday things that are important that I sometimes overlook.

    1. After my dad died, we had tons of photos, none of them labeled, and most had no meaning for us. The ones we gravitated towards were shots of people we knew, or we speculated about people we didn’t know interacting with their world and wondered how they fit into my father’s world.

      Now when I travel with my family, if I see a beautiful landscape, I take two shots, one of the landscape, and one with my loved ones interacting with it, or each other, or me behind the camera.

      The words I use help to pull together a little story that, I hope, gives meaning to the photographs even if they don’t know the people. As a storyteller, I have learned that the story is what people remember more than the words, and I think that is also true with photography, whether the story is shared with words or told wordlessly through images.

      Thank you so much for your visit, and your thoughtful comments!

      1. I like that idea of taking two pictures to better tell the story, and I guess sometimes the individual pictures could stand alone. Hmmm…you have given me something to think about, thanks 🙂

  6. As you climb Oyster Dome there are spots where the grade in the trail is 45 and 50%. Still, about half way up at one of the overlooks someone has lugged a park bench. The view is stunning, and that park bench is truly special.

    1. Hi Charlie,
      Thanks for the tip, and thanks for the follow. I went to your website and really enjoyed it–very well done. I look forward to following your blog as well.

  7. Love the many magical and priceless stories of the benches but my favorite of all is the one that gave this…”to escape the worries of the workaday world…” The little girl just gazing into the breathtaking horizon reminds me of all of us when we want and needed to dream and find our getaway. Thanks. Have a wonderful weekend and best wishes to your family.

    1. Dear Island Traveler,
      I just love hearing what the photos invoke in different people. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, and really adding to this conversation. I love what you were able to take away from that photo. Best wishes to you and your family. I hope your weekend was a good one!

    1. AD, you are very generous, and coming from such a great photographer and blogger, that means a lot. Thank you so much for your visit, and for your encouragement.

  8. This would be perfect for “Bardo” if you are amenible to that. ??? I can invite you again. If you accept – no pressure – you can say no – then you will be able to lay-in the post to the other site. Copy it from “text” and into “text” – not “visual” and there is virtually no work. Don’t schedule it. I will. Let me know. Invitation still stands to join us.

    Hugs!

    1. Dear Jamie,
      I would be honored! Anything that I have posted, I would be very glad to share on Bardo, if you think it is a good fit. I felt a little intimidated by the technical aspects, and also by not knowing if a post would be appropriate for Bardo.
      Thank you so much, Jamie.
      Hugs to you too!

  9. A wonderful tribute to the bench. How do you do it? 🙂 You make the simplest of things so beautiful.

    1. Dear Mary,

      Thank you for your kind words. I could say the exact same thing about you. You share the simplest and yet sweetest moments with your kids, and that is the most beautiful thing in the world.

      1. Awww….hugs to you Naomi! I just wanted you to know it’s my first son’s 6th birthday tomorrow (May 3) – he’s the pirate fan 😉

        Have a good day!

        Love,
        Mary

  10. Benches are wonderfully adaptable creations, whether for a romantic cuddle-up, a rest after climbing a steep hill, to watch a view, to have a chinwag, to have your lunchbreak, to sit daydreaming or writing haiku. Endless uses.

    My daughter and I, when we eventually pass on, both want to donate to our favourite National Trust garden a bench with an engraved brass plaque on it.

    My mother owns a 25-acre field next to her house, full of flowers, butterflies and wildlife. She has benches places at vantage points all around the field, which she’s enjoys sitting on at intervals during her daily walk, especially since she’s had a stroke and can’t be so strenuous with her exercise.

    1. Dear Sarah,
      I love the National Trust. What a cool idea to have a bench–something so useful, and yet thoughtful, as a commemoration.

      I’m sorry to hear about your mother’s stroke. It’s wonderful that she gets out walking, and that you have made little stations for her to stop and rest at. Does she live near you?

      1. She lives about an hour’s drive away, and it was her who set up her resting stations in the field. She’s recovered very well and looks about 15 years younger than she is. A very determined person. A great nature lover. Retired dog breeder and Crufts judge. And a poet!

  11. How beautiful – fits into the bench theme throughout the entire year! I should have looked here for inspiration. Thanks for linking up Naomi 🙂
    Jude xx

  12. Thank you so much for the poetry & images. When our father passed we purchased a bench for him at the local park where he used to walk & then in his later years loved to sit in the sun. We added a small sign to the bench inviting passers-by to sit & enjoy of an afternoon as dad did. When I see benches similarly attired here on Whidbey Island I feel like I’m sitting with the past and the passed.

    1. Hi Diane,
      I cannot think of a lovelier memorial that to share with the world that which made your father so happy! And I love the idea of sitting with both the past and the passed. Thanks so much for sharing your story.

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