Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A park bench for Bopa


As some of you know we have been thinking about donating a park bench dedicated to Bopa. A month or so ago my brother initiated the process to donate a bench honoring our parents. That bench will be located on the Burke-Gilman trail at the NE 60th public access or about five houses north of the house my Dad built. I contacted the Parks Department and asked if there were any other sites in that general vicinity along the trail that might be available for a bench and they sent me three suggestions. A few days ago I walked down the trail and visited all three places. The one I liked the best is near the National Archives building and has the added advantage of several bat and/or bird houses on posts and trees as well as new evergreen seedlings planted near where the bench would be situated. We can put a ten-word message on the plaque that includes his name and the date the bench is installed. It is a way to honor him on the trail he used to bike to and from the University for all those years with the added benefit of being a place for other bikers and walkers to rest if they would like. It will be easy to walk to and I can sit there in the quiet of the urban forest for a few minutes whenever I like. Much nicer than a headstone in a cemetery I think and more practical too.

One of several bat houses attached to tree

The Burke-Gilman Trail is the longest, narrowest park in the city stretching for slightly more than 12 miles. It is a great place to ride a bike or walk. It is so quiet and woodsy, almost all you hear are birds, and it is hard to believe you are in a city when you are walking along the path. I have seen little kids on tricycles and people walking dogs besides the usual assortment of walkers, joggers, runners, rollerbladers and bikers recreationists and commuters. Bopa used to call the groups of speed bikers “spandex warriors” and we see those too. Most users are polite and bikers warn with bell or voice when they are about to pass with “On your left.” Most people using the trail are friendly and greet one another with a casual hello or good morning, good afternoon, even if they are complete strangers.

Looking south from the proposed bench site

In the last year Friends of the Burke-Gilman Trail have been working along the trail removing brambles and diseased trees, scraggly undergrowth and replacing with native trees and bark chips on the ground. They will eventually plant flowers and smaller shrubs as well. Here and there are signs proclaiming the site to be the future home of a healthy forest.

Proposed bench site

It appears that the Parks Department is placing the benches where the trail has public access, which makes sense, but those places are not very woodsy. The location by the Archives has a woodsy area adjacent to it and the bat/bird houses were just a bonus. Bopa had a book on bats telling how to construct a bat house and was always interested in anything like that.

Looking north from bench site

A sign explaining about the trail and the current re-forestation project.

I am excited about being able to donate a bench, help enrich the park, and provide a place to sit and think about him. There will probably be squirrels there too. He didn’t care much for the squirrels until a couple of years ago when we had two baby squirrels in the yard and they were so cute. He generally tended to think of squirrels as unwelcome, destructive rodents and pests mostly because they chewed on our roof. It will take about three months for the bench to be erected but after it is I’ll put a picture up for the blog.

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