I have a walking trail cut into some land that I own in Minnesota. The trail is about two miles long and runs from old growth forest into recent tree plantings including wild life cover, hardwoods and pines. I walk it every morning with the dogs. I enjoy the peace and the views and the dogs well they enjoy being dogs. Like any piece of rural land I know some will take advantage of the remoteness by dumping unwanted tires, leaving party remains, and other trash which is just unfortunately just part of the picture. I and some of my neighbors unbidden by me have picked up and disposed of this trash with reasonable good will over the years.
But lately some other things have been happening that bother me. About ½ way out on the trail I have a bench where the trail crosses a “Low Maintenance Road,” which in Minnesota means “don’t even think about it if it has rained recently.” A few years ago we found a bunch of marijuana growing in pots just off this low maintenance road.” We reported it to the sheriff who rather humorously took the marijuana and left his card on a stake with a note that if the owners wanted their property back they should contact him. Later one of my grandchildren, impressed with the sheriff, told his class during show and tell that his grandpa had lots of marijuana growing in his field in Minnesota.
Two years ago someone set my bench on fire, a fire from which it recovered although scarred for life. Now this year I discover that someone out of the kindness of their heart sometime in the past week or so, draped my bench with the carcasses of several large suckers (a carp like fish). The carcasses, quite decomposed when I found them. may have finished off what the fire started two years ago. As even after pressure washing and bleach the bench still reeks of decomposition.
My bench is innocent it has never done anything to anyone except accommodate their need to sit down. It has survived storms, winters with 40 degree below zero temps and summers with 100+ temperatures. It has been praised by hikers for its placement at the top of a hill and praised by one little old lady in a letter, who walks the low maintenance road every morning she was happy because now she can go further and rest up before starting back. Praised by me because I’m old and stiff and enjoy sitting on it and watching the world wake up.
My question is why? Why do people destroy things that have given them no offense? Is the bench suffering for some offense that I have given (which I admit is possible) or is its destruction simply an act of hubris. Perhaps hubris is true for the earlier burning of the bench but the fish? Somebody carried these fish at least several hundred yards from water to place them on the bench or drove down the road looking for someplace to dispose of them and decided that a bench would be a good place. People have disposed of fish guts on my land before, but not in a destructive manner. I know this is true because my dogs invariably find dead fish and enjoy them so much that they are not allowed back in the house without a bath. Do I mind the fish remains, well I don’t enjoy bathing dogs but still consider the fish remains free fertilizer.
But my bench, my friend, may compatriot for probably 30 years. What did it do to deserve this ignominious fate? What type of low life or teenage thoughtless person has the need to do these things? As to the bench itself I have decided that it deserves a chance, perhaps a coat of varnish after it dries off from its scrubbing will cover the stench if not we will bury it someplace… roasting marshmallows over its carcass does not seem to be a good idea. If it doesn’t survive I will probably buy or build another and take the risk of it too being damaged as for me, “hope springs eternal.”