Having the time to listen to the answer (tf)

Sat on the back porch last night. Just me and the kids. Talking. Temperatures were in the mid 70s. It was kinda nice. Even when my neighbor a few yards away turned his radio on full blast (I didn’t know there was a station devoted to heavy metal, but apparently there is) the moment wasn’t ruined. I heard the distinct sound of a lawnmower too. And I could smell some burgers cooking on grills. It felt like a summer evening. Even better really ’cause the bugs and the sweats aren’t around yet.

Didn’t even have to pull out the porch furniture, ’cause last fall I realized that if I didn’t put it away, I’d be all set come spring (I use the same logic with the Christmas lights in my office). So I just bunched it together and tossed a tarp over it. My brain works hard so my body doesn’t have to. The snow blower that I didn’t have to use all winter is still in the garage, so that’s gonna need to be stuffed in the basement. But I’m thinking tarp, just in case we get nailed with a May nor’easter.

My dog was in the yard, acting like a condemned prisoner granted a pardon. She weighs 11 pounds, and is still convinced she can fit a soccer ball in her mouth. After being cooped up all winter, she’s got energy to burn. Pushes that ball with her face from one side of the yard to the other, yelping and barking like it stole something from her. Every few minutes she’ll come back on the porch and plop herself down like a rug, panting and looking at us like we’re forcing her to argue with a soccer ball. And then she’s off like a shot again for another round. A pretty uncomplicated life all around really. I wish I was my dog.

At serene back porch moments like these I always think of the Monkees song “Pleasant Valley Sunday”, even when it’s not a Sunday and the valley isn’t very pleasant. So I thought about it again last night and immediately got sad ’cause poor Davey Jones just died. So that kinda ruined the moment. Dead people do that. I need a new song to think of. Maybe “Lazy Sunday” from the Small Faces. That’s got a good sitting on the porch vibe to it, aside from the fact that Steve Marriot and Ronnie Lane are as dead as Davey. Maybe my neighbor’s heavy metal will suffice as a soundtrack. At least until I hook up the Ipod speakers and start competing at the volume game…..which I am pretty good at. Lots of good songs about leisure by guys who are still alive. I just can’t think of any right now.

What’s missing is the shades on the back porch. They should be up soon. I love sitting out there but feel weird when all my neighbors are out too and everybody is peering at everybody else. There’s not much else to do when you’re sitting on your back porch. You wave and say hi and then kinda stare at one another. I do the same thing. The shades cover my flanks at least, and make me feel less vulnerable.

I’m thinking it’s gonna be a long hot summer. We skipped winter and spring seems superfluous at this point. I can’t ever remember cutting my grass before the men’s NCAA basketball champion is crowned, but I’ve got a feeling it might come to that. Even though it’s not really green it’s growing and is starting to look like the kind of thicket that wildfires seek out.

Still, it’s nice to sit out on your own little piece of ground, and leave the troubles that reside outside the bubble. Things move so fast, sometimes we don’t feel comfortable when they slow down. It’s worth it to take deep breaths of real air and ask the kids “how was school today?” and actually have time to listen to the answer.

–Tom Flannery

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~ by admin on March 21, 2012.

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