Watching the World From My Front Porch
I’ve been doing a lot of sitting on my front porch lately. I do this late in the evenings after the intense summer heat has subsided.
I supposed there are two primary reasons. One is, television just gets more rotten by the day. I’ve got 50 channels but I still have trouble finding anything worth watching. I’m even tired of the Spice Channel. The plots never change.
I also come from a long line of front-porch sitters, and before air-conditioning and television, that’s the way a lot of people used to spend their evenings. I did that with my own family when I was growing up. My grandfather and I used to count cars and listen for trains.
I’ve been sitting on my front porch with my dog Catfish, the black Lab. I count BMWs. He growls when Volvos come by. I live on a nice street and I have a nice front porch. I have a swing and two rocking chairs. I sit in one of the rocking chairs. The swing is a little hard on what is left of my rear. Where do men’s butts go when they get older?
One thing I have noticed is there are a lot of other people, at least in my neighborhood, who aren’t sitting inside watching television in the evenings, either. They aren’t sitting on their porches, however. They are out engaging in some sort of exercise.
There aren’t just joggers anymore. A lot of bicycle riders come by my house while Catfish and I are on the porch. They wear helmets and tight pants and race past in large packs. The other evening, maybe 15 came by in a blur. Three minutes later a lone cyclist raced past, trying to catch up with the others. “He reminds me of the last horse I bet on,” I said to Catfish.
I get a lot of people out walking their dogs. A man comes by walking a dog that looks like a rat. The man sort of looks like a rat, too. They say people often begin resembling their pets after a time. Catfish and I have been together for over a decade, but my ears don’t seem any longer.
There’s another group that comes by my house that is exercising in a manner to which I am not familiar. They aren’t jogging, but they aren’t simply strolling, either. They are walking very fast and slinging their arms back and forth.
“That’s power walking,” somebody told me. “It’s not as hard on your knees as jogging.”
It looks like prissing to me, but I’m nearly 50 and don’t own a Nordic Trac.
It once was the custom to speak pleasantly to anybody who happened to come past while one was sitting on one’s porch. I wondered how that would play in a large American city in the ’90s.
So one night whenever the joggers, power walkers or dog walkers would come by (the roller skaters and cyclists were going too fast,) I would call out, “Good evening.” Amazing. To a person, each called back, “Good evening.” I must have said “Good Evening” twenty times, and not once did anybody ignore my attempt to be pleasant. That made me feel awfully good. Made me feel good about myself, my neighbors and my region.
We may even take up front porch sitting full time, me and ol’ Catfish. He said he though the power walkers looked like they were prissing, too, by the way. We don’t look alike, but I guess we’re starting to think alike as we enter our rocking chair years.