I’ve done a lot of porch sitting this year. Our house in Schroon Lake has a small but cozy screened-in porch, with barely enough room for four chairs and a mismatched table. Three of the chairs are original rattan pieces from our summer house in Lake George - long bleached like desert bones and slowly unraveling, but loved just the same. When you sit and are still, you learn a lot about your immediate surroundings.
Being in a forced sedentary position for most of June, I learned about my cats’ daily routine. When they aren’t sleeping or shedding or simultaneously sleeping and shedding, they are bringing small mammals, birds and amphibians into the house. One morning Augie came trotting into the driveway not once, not twice, but three times with two long legs dangling from her mouth - frogs snatched from the wetlands next door. No matter how loud you yell "NO!!!," if a cat knows you’re not getting up and coming after them, you will be ignored.
I access our second floor by going up and down on my butt, step by step. The stairs are steep and narrow - normal by 1890's building standards - and I don’t have the patience or skill to use the crutches on them. The other day as I was making my way up, I was suddenly face to face with a frog on a step. It looked at me with an expression of "pleasejustgetmeouttahere..."
But back to the porch. A pile of books on the floor has slowly sprouted next to my chair. An assortment of magazines, notebooks, writing implements and Nalgene bottles clutter the table. I’ve never been much for retail therapy, but I gleefully bought new cushions for the chairs to perk things up and cope with the impression left by my butt.
From my vantage point, I saw a large shadow cross the yard, and a blue heron landed on the top of the telephone pole in front of the house. It stood there for probably a full five minutes, checking out the landscape, a beautiful, graceful and tall bird. What a treat to see. We’ve also had a flush of woodpeckers this year. I’ve heard babies in nests and watched parents fuss and fluster with other birds who have gotten too close.
A species specific to Charley Hill Road are the annual Seagle Colony Joggers. Every year, a group of enthusiastic young folks attending the operatic summer stock down our road start off the season jogging past our house, usually just up to the top of the (quite steep) hill and then back down, waving frantically at the bugs swarming their heads. As the summer wears on, their numbers wear out to the last colonist standing. The best was the young man a few years ago who sang falsetto as he ran by - not an easy feat given the hill he was heading up.
I’ve also learned to identify the neighbors by the sound of their vehicles, before they come into view. It’s become a game between Larry and me as to who exactly is coming down the hill. I’ve definitely got an advantage.
Slowing down, watching and listening has been a lesson unto itself. I’ve enjoyed the meditative quality of it; I’ve used it to quiet my busy mind and let my body come to terms with being still for stretches of time. I used to think I stopped and smelled the roses a fair amount, but when you are plunked unceremoniously in the middle of the garden, things take on a whole new scent.