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Stephen R. Miller Memorial Bench Observation 1

r.graham.barrett's picture

Today was my first observation period at the Stephen R. Miller bench, located in the North West corner of Haverford’s campus. The bench is located on a hill in a section of the campus/Haverford Arboretum known as the Ryan Pinetum, and provides an excellent view of the Pinetum’s field and the college Nature Trail. As I was settling into the bench I began to debate by myself of whether the spot would be considered an isolated section of campus or not. There is plenty to suggest that it is relatively accessible, including a trail leading from the Nature Trail that passes right by the bench on a loop of the Pineteum’s field, the occasional hiker and jogger passing by (including one who had left his running shoes on the bench while he ran in the field), and the Haverford field hockey field being 100 feet behind the bench. But at the same time, there existed multiple signs that contradict the notion that the bench is not isolated including, the overgrown weeds and plants surrounding and beneath the bench , the great distance I had to walk from the main part of campus to the bench and the pine trees surrounding the bench which blocked the bench from view from most angles. Besides debating the question of whether the spot was peaceful isolated or not, I also took in how the sights and sounds that I was able to perceive at the current moment might not be there as autumn progressed. For the most part, the area surrounding the bench seemed like it still existed in summertime (including the green leaves on the trees, and the hum of insects) but signs of autumn were scattered here and there in the view such as the occasional spot of color on the trees along the Nature Trail. As the hour on the bench progressed, I concluded that the only constant views and sounds I was to experience at this spot was the nearby evergreens, the occasional glimpse through the trees of cars on Haverford Road, and the occasional sound of the R 100 train passing by. As I finally finished my hour of observation, I contemplated how the sights and sounds were not definite constants, as an observation hour in the afternoon instead of the morning might bring entirely new sights and sounds, in conjunction with the shifting seasonal landscape.  The interesting thing about these shifting factors, is that the changes are going to occur as quickly as the next visit to the bench, meaning  that each observational period was going to be unique, something I am truly looking forward to.