Inching Toward Simplicity: Pragmatics and Prose

Monday, June 02, 2008

What’s on Your Front Porch?



Spring’s fecundity is fully ripening into summer. In the delight of barefoot mornings, Gavin and I have taken to visiting the front porch first thing. We’ve started a log of what (or should I say who) we find there. Today’s entry:

· Black moth
· Brown moth (looks like a leaf)
· Pill bug
· Potato bug
· Black beetle – shiny (dead)
· Smaller black beetle

This inventory seems important. It chronicles an intent to be aware, to be appreciative of what is literally just outside our door. It imparts lessons that my father, who died when I was six (Gavin’s age now), tried to impart. His love for nature came through, although I don’t remember many details of our discussions. I remember being told that fog was “clouds on the ground”, and that dewy grass predicts a dry day. The message I got was openness—to look, listen, smell, and feel the world around me.

On our trip to Florida a couple of weeks ago, we immediately appreciated the warmer air. It was still comparatively chilly in Connecticut, and the 10 + added degrees had us kicking off our shoes and lingering on the hotel balcony. The area we stayed in had a host of attractions, but what stayed with me the most were spontaneous contacts with nature— the brown lizard who puffed his neck up when we caught him, speckled eggs en route to the pool, birds chirping out alarms, guarding a nest at the miniature golf course. These encounters warmed me in a way that no tropical climate can.

Scooping out mulch to fill our flower beds today, Tom retrieved some unexpected tiny lives. Baby mice, eyes not yet opened, squirming and squeaking for their missing mother. Yes, we’ve become their surrogate parents. Snowy and Twinkle are sipping milk from our hands, snoozing in a cardboard box cushioned with grass and paper towels. What better gift? We know their grasp on life is shaky, but treasure their warm bodies curling into our palms, clumsily lapping up milk.

What’s on your front porch, or just beyond?

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At 6/03/2008 6:13 AM, Anonymous Linda said...

We live in Vermont where winters reigns over much of the year. Consequently, our porch takes on an almost divine presence come warm weather. We really make the most of it, knowing that winter is just around the corner. We have our breakfast on our porch ( which is blessedly screened because we live in the buggy woods), many a lunch and we enjoy listening to the tree frogs late at night. When it's very dark, we plug in twinkling lights and place candles around the porch.

At 7/07/2008 5:03 PM, Anonymous Gemma said...

I am just about to move house and I'm delighted to say that my new home is a cottage in a village in the Scottish borders. I haven't a porch as such, but I do have sea and woodlands on my doorstep. Bliss! :)


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