Picnic Table

A picnic table sits beneath a spreading white oak tree
just outside the building where I spend many of my days 
extending an unspoken invitation to all who walk past it.

Perched on a slight incline, it is bathed in deep, cool shade, and 
a breeze has, more often than not, accepted the invitation
and it, in turn, entreats passersby to do the same.

Were it not for the heavy chain tethering the table so close 
that the tree itself takes two of the end seats 
that haven on the hill would be perfect.

Enjoy the table, but don’t steal it.  Things are complicated.

Draft, May 2021

The Tower

“Do you want to climb the tower?”

“Sure.  Do you want to climb the tower?”

“Sure.  Let’s go.”

Honestly, in a lot of ways, it was as if we were kids looking at a roller coaster, saying, “I’ll do it if you do it!”

Except it wasn’t a roller coaster, and my mother and I weren’t kids.

—–

Dayton, Ohio, is a city with a lot of history.  I know there are a lot of cities with history, but Dayton is mine, so I’m a bit partial.  Part of the city’s history — and there is a lot — is embodied in what is known as the Callahan Clock.  

Until the late 1970s, this clock stood atop Dayton’s first tall building, the Callahan building.  When that building was taken down, the clock was removed from its 14 story perch and moved to another building near Interstate-75, giving it even more visibility to those moving through the city. 

That location was eventually torn down as well, and until two years ago the clock sat on the ground in Dayton’s historical Carillon Park, home of the Wright Brothers museum and its airplane, the Wright Flyer III.  (I told you Dayton had a lot of history–oh, yeah, the whole “birthplace of flight” thing.)

In 2019, the clock was placed atop a tower built in Carillon park just to hold it, a structure known as the Brethen Tower.

“The tower” that started this narrative.

Now, the tower itself isn’t necessarily a thing of beauty.  The clock is, but the tower is a simple structure made of I-beams and steel grating.

Therein lies a problem.

It’s 120 steps to the top, and every one of those steps is made of a rock-solid-no-way-you-can-fall piece of steel grating firmly welded to the structure itself.

Just because you can’t fall, though, doesn’t mean you can’t see through it.  As you climb it, there’s never a time when you’re not aware that you’re getting farther and farther from the ground.  I climbed it, and I’ve got the pictures to prove it, but that doesn’t mean I was comfortable doing so.

Once we were there, however, we were rewarded with a view of the downtown area as well as a fantastic vantage point from which my mom and I could look at another attraction: a bald eagle nest.  Currently occupied by a pair of eagles with three maturing eaglets, it’s a sight to see, perched at the top of a large sycamore tree on the edge of the park.

We came, we climbed, and we saw.

“Okay, I’m ready to go down now.”

“Okay, me too.”


The Callahan Clock, Dayton, Ohio

Bald eagle nest, Carillon Park, Dayton, Ohio