It’s hard to believe as you look at me now, that I once was a seed! Yes, a tiny little seed. Protected from birds and squirrels in a tree cone, the day came when I fell to the ground and was buried beneath the soil. I honestly thought my life was over but soon, I could push through the soil and into the light! What a great day that was! Oh, the new things I could see and feel! It was a whole new world for me afresh. I looked around and saw there were many others like me, little saplings growing together and I asked one of the bigger trees what my name was!
“Douglas!” the tree answered, looking somewhat bemused that I didn’t even know my own name. “Douglas Fir” another tree added. Douglas Fir, I proudly thought to myself. I have a name AND a surname! Woohoo!
Over the many years of my life, I was to learn innumerable things. I learned that I lived in a place called Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, which had been created over 340 years ago by two doctors! Hard to believe now but back then the garden was started on a plot no bigger than a tennis court. Now it spans across Scotland! I learned that trees like me can live for over 1000 years and have been grown for Christmas trees, telephone poles or furniture! Yikes!
Here, in this garden, as the years have passed by, I have enjoyed watching the seasons change, the migrating birds that have stopped to rest on my branches, the voles, badgers, squirrels, birds, and even foxes going about finding food and playing under my shade.
But what I loved the most was when families visited. They sheltered under my green leafy branches enjoying picnics throughout the seasons. Parents and grandparents have relayed stories to each other. Adventures of Scottish heroes, wars and victories, castles with knights, Kings and Queens, memories of surviving famine, persecution, disease. Stories of new birth and loss, funny tales of mischievous antics, travels and exploits. I watched the children, heads resting in cupped hands intently taking in every word, their minds creating pictures of all that they heard.
And then one day, I was cut down. I couldn’t understand it at first. The searing pain of the axe, why? What did this mean? Where am I going? My wood was chopped into many pieces, but I was there all along. Watching, waiting, wondering. Was this it? Was that my life over? Was I going to sit in this pile waiting in this builder’s yard, year in year out? Was I of no use anymore?
But I needn’t have worried. One frosty morning, I felt my wood being moved. I was loaded into a truck and driven away, unloaded and stacked into another pile in the warmth and safety of a workshop. I saw tools and machines around and was frightened, but soon the fear left me. There was something very special about this place. I didn’t know what it was, but there was peace and reassurance that all would be well. And sure enough. Hands that picked me up, chiselled and shaped with love and respect. Hands that sanded my resin-filled blisters, releasing the aroma, making the wood crafter smile. I felt his tears wash me with the pain of loss. I cried with him, but he did not know. I felt his sorrow and then his joy as he admired his finished handiwork. And then I caught a glimpse of it myself in the large mirror across the workshop. I have been made into a bench!
A beautiful solid redwood bench. His final touch, oil poured onto me and rubbed with cloth, oh this oil, such an anointing, such salve onto my blisters bringing new life to my wood.
And there I sit today, in the garden facing the duck pond. Parents and grandparents are sitting on me with their wee ones, reading to them stories of old and new, passing on the legacy of their history. Oh, the joy of what I get to hear, knowing that in my new state, in my new form, my new life, I continue to comfort, to give rest, to nourish souls and to release joy.
I am your legacy bench.