The climb was steep.
Steeper than the guidebook’s definition of “easy.” So, when I spotted the stone bench halfway up the mountain trail, I gratefully plopped down and claimed it.
“Go on,” I said to my husband. “Take a photo for me at the top, and I’ll rest here.”
Even though wildfires had decimated the mountain side, the view from my perch was still spectacular, especially since new pines and wildflowers were rebirthing the landscape. Although my husband was hesitant to leave me alone, I assured him I had whistle and bear spray at the ready.
It wasn’t long, however, before other hikers began to approach, and I could see they too were tired. Sweating and panting, they’d glance at me on the bench, and then move onward, clearly wary of intruding my space. Not wanting to be a bench hog, it was obvious, despite my own wariness, that I needed to move over.
“Would you… like to sit and rest awhile?” I asked as each hiker drew near.
And, yes, several did, visibly grateful for the offer. A man and woman from Denmark, a mother and her child, and a single woman with her dog were among my various bench mates. Although we were strangers in a strange land, we had a fine visit, a lovely view, and an exchange of information as to where we had been and where we were going.
Although we did not know each other’s backgrounds, politics, or religion, we grasped the common bond of enjoying the beauty of Mother Earth together. It was a simple moment, a peaceful moment. A reminder that our shared humanity can be greater than hate or fear.
Come, sit and rest awhile.
PHOTO CREDIT: BLAZE FARRAR