Lately I’ve been thinking about a bench in Northern California. This particular bench is made of stone and perches along a dirt trail atop the long ridge of the San Francisco Bay Peninsula. I used to run along that trail, and every time I passed that stone bench, I stopped to read the little plaque on it, with a quote from the writer Wallace Stegner, which said: “To try to save for everyone, the hostile and indifferent as well as the committed, some of the health that flows across the green ridges from the skyline, and some of the beauty and spirit that are still available to any resident of the valley who has a moment and the wit to lift his eyes unto the hills.”
As one of the committed, I was grateful for Stegner and the others who preserved this land. I was equally grateful to have a moment and the wit to be there. Almost 10 million people live in the San Francisco Bay area, but often in those days, I’d be alone on the long ridge. Some days the bay would be obscured by the marine layer of fog, the whole population swallowed up. Not me though. I had a moment and the wit to be up here above it all, with Wallace Stegner, in my running shoes.
Years later, and thousands of miles away here in Wisconsin, I still congratulate myself when I find a moment and the wit. They’re hard to find. I’m sure you’ve looked for them yourself and know what I mean.
I’m Chris Fink and that’s my perspective.