Some father and daughter time had been scheduled, because she was leaving soon for the West Coast and a first job out of college. Father was trying to be wise and encouraging but not really succeeding. So there we were, sitting by the window of the village coffee shop, when we noticed the birch trees across the way.

It was one of those cloudless late August days that we recall in winter. The slanting afternoon light shone on a dozen or so white trunks arching in a gathering breeze towards a cerulean sky.

Circles of dark loam around each stand of birch indicated frequent human attention. Happy human design also showed in the landscaping between these trees and the street, where “someone” (the word we use for those private people we do not know who have done us all some public good), perhaps the same someone that had given the land for this use, had organized the placement of a half dozen granite boulders amid low evergreens.

The semicircle those boulders defined made a small amphitheater near the sidewalk, covered with crushed white stones. Someone too had placed there a bench and some wrought iron tables and eight chairs of white metal and deep blue fabric that on this day echoed the colors of birch and sky.

Adam Smith in “The Wealth of Nations” would have seen the multiplication of human effort that combines to haul the stones and produce the chairs and tables. “How much commerce and navigation in particular … which often come from the remotest corners of the world … the miner, the builder of the furnace for smelting the ore, the workmen who tended the furnace … must all of them join in their different arts to produce them…. The number of people who have been employed in making them exceeds all calculation.”

A bronze plaque said simply Goodridge Park — Dedicated 2004. The Latin dedicatus means to make a place sacred. Benefactor unnamed.

The next day I returned and walked up among the birch. Place your hand on the bark and it is soft like fabric. The bark is scored with many short, thin, horizontal black lines, about an inch or two long, which from a distance look like lines of text, or some indecipherable code, or the markings of a needle on the wax of an old Edison phonograph cylinder.

And if the bark is like paper, then it is like paper torn away in places, disclosing paper and further codes or writings underneath, like the parchments and linens in museums with their fragmentary texts overwritten and erased during the centuries.

Our allegorical and austere New England poet Robert Frost wrote a poem called “Birches,” about how when he sees them “bend to left and right / across the lines of straighter darker trees / … they seem not to break; though once they are bowed / so low for long, they never right themselves.”

He says, “You may see their trunks arching in the woods / years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground / Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair / Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.”

When I think of our daughter starting out in her new job, so far away from home, I remember all my own difficulties when I started out, also far from home, and wished I could shield her somehow. It is a fond wish.

I read further in Frost’s poem that sometimes he is “weary of considerations / And life is too much like a pathless wood / Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs / Broken across it, and one eye is weeping / From a twig’s having lashed across it open.”

The poet then says that sometimes he’d “like to get away from earth awhile / And then come back to it and begin over.”

Well, of course, the poet knows you can’t really begin over. But our daughters and sons do, in a way, begin over the industry and ingenuity of making the world. We abandon the lathe and the keyboard to them. They must enter the often interesting, sometimes heartless, and ultimately exhausting life of the market, with its divisions of labor that invisibly produce the wealth of nations.

Frost talks of climbing “black branches up a snow-white trunk / Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more / but dipped its top and set me down again.”

I think I may remember how a few days before she left to start her first job after college my daughter and I had a coffee in the village, and noticed the birch trees across the street.

We saw her off yesterday at the airport — gone to make her living on her own.