Columns

2017.08.30 A seat under the wahoo

By DAVID GREEN

When our front porch floor turned purple: that’s what led to our new relaxation area in the back yard.

I think it was two summers ago that my neighbor, Dan Hoffman, sent his crew over to paint our house. Both front and back porches were included in the job, so both porches had to be cleared out. For the most part, that meant moving stuff to the garage.

Clearing out the front porch made me happy. We had too much stuff there. We are the temporary holder of some old wicker furniture from my parents’ porch. We have a hammock stretched across the porch. There are kids toys, a painting easel, some garden tools and an old ceramic bulldog. There’s a wooden bench from somewhere and a wicker basket to catch the mail. The origin of many items is a mystery to me.

It sounds as though we have a very large front porch, but it’s more accurate to say that we had way too much stuff out there. To see it empty felt really good to me.

The heaviest item out there was an old green porch swing. This was a classic model. Solid, weighty. They probably don’t make them quite like this anymore.

Colleen remembers buying it at an auction somewhere on Congress Street, perhaps. Our former neighbor around the corner, Les Schmidt, was bidding against her but he finally reached his limit. This makes me wonder how much I paid for that heavy beast.

Colleen remembers that Les was sorry afterward that he stopped bidding. She also thinks he helped her load it into his truck, drive it to our house and put it on the porch.

I never sat in the swing much. It had a cold surface and never felt all that comfortable. I would have gladly sold it to Les.

With porch painting time, into the garage it went, and there it remained for a winter or two. I was glad to have it gone and fought against any suggestion to bring it back to its former resting place.

Then the most amazing thing happened. Sometime this summer Colleen suggested taking it to the back yard. I went for that idea, probably wondering if it would ever be used. I see a lot of yard furniture that must be for decoration only because I never see people sitting in it.

My only request was to have it clear of my lawn mower cord—remember, I have a nuclear powered mower, with a little coal thrown in. It ended up on the far side of the garden under shade.

It didn’t take long to see if it would be used. We’ve eaten many dinners out there. We’ve read books to grandkids on the swing. We’ve gone out a couple of times just to sit.

It brings an interesting perspective to our yard. I had never stood in that position to ponder our house. I see parts of the yard that I don’t normally look at.

I don’t know if we had it in place in time for the red buckeye flowers that bloomed overhead, but we now have yahoo fruit overhead, ripening to that wonderful scarlet color. I can see the wafer ash across the yard, check out the ripening of tomatoes, get a close up look of the weeds that are slowly taking over the kale and Swiss chard.

A friend stopped over Saturday to bring apples in trade for kale and I invited him to the back yard. Somehow that was such a unique experience. I just don’t invite anyone to sit in my back yard, but I soon realized how perfect Colleen’s idea was. It’s an excellent spot to sit and talk for a while on a Saturday afternoon. Looking at the wahoo fruit made me forget that I needed to be inside writing and writing.

At one point in our conversation, a sparrow traveling a hundred miles an hour zoomed by our heads and another was suddenly perched about three feet from Tom’s head. Very unusual. 

And then there was one more burst of bird before I saw the reason. A hawk suddenly took off from the redbud tree in the side yard. It was almost like the sparrows had come to us for protection. That hawk wasn’t going to come toward us.

It’s a little trite to talk about the importance of going outside and appreciating nature. That’s always said. Everybody knows it; we just don’t do it.

My recommendation: Place an old porch swing in your back yard under trees and let it roll in.