I walk — to the post office, to the food co-op, to work. Sometimes I just walk to walk. When I walk to walk, I enjoy following a nearby path up a smallish hill to a bench that overlooks downtown Montpelier.

None of these walks take me very far afield, nor do they depart much from paths previously laid out. Admittedly, I am not much of an adventurer. When you walk the same paths everyday, you don’t have to be the most attuned looker to compile an inventory of the common sights and sounds — the time of day that ducks can be found on the Winooski River, the season that finches suddenly appear to pick seeds from split pods atop raspy flower stalks, the sound of a short train trundling along, laden with granite from the quarry.

Accompanying the myriad repetitions that exist within a given environment are the human interventions that quietly disrupt the usual or intended order. Think of the numerous impromptu paths flanking many sidewalks — patches of earth worn by pedestrian deviation. In these and other minor acts of aesthetic disruption the human impulse to be benignly contrary is appreciatively evident.

A row of planters in front of the Post Office/Federal Building on State St. in Montpelier, Vermont. Each planter is full to bursting with petunias. In one planter there grows an unidentified squash.

A piece of split wood placed on top of a rubbish bin along Main St. in Montpelier, Vermont.  It has been chamfered, shows signs of further whittling on other edges and has a shallow relief star carved into the skyward side.

Outside Red Hen Bakery & Cafe in Middlesex, Vermont, there are a bunch of branches gathered, tied, ends painted and a board placed across the top. Inside the coffee shop, I learn that most people didn’t even know that it was outside, and of those who do, they assume that it is a bench. One of the workers looks out the window and says, “See someone is sitting on it.” Must be a bench.

Author’s Note: I owe a nod of thanks to recent conversations with, friend and artist, Ryan Mandell about his work which considers the human relationship to architecture and urban planning — the tension between plan and implementation of a design. Though the environments we engage with critically and the nature of our respective work are rather dissimilar, there are moments when the spirit of the inquiry is shared. The thoughts stated above were undoubtedly a product of these conversations.

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