Things Keeping Us Going: Hanging on the Screen Porch Edition

It is Indepence Day here in the USA. I have mixed feelings today. Big feelings. Lots of us do, I know. I will be sure to write more about that in the near future. Right now, though, I am hopped up on prednisone for the poison ivy that is covering my face, right hand, and left hip. My often wise spouse advises against Writing While ‘Roid Rage-y.

Instead, I will write about how I am coping with the anger and angst (and the itching). I’m sitting with the cat on my screen porch. I have an iced coffee and a book. And it is good.

The porch is a bit cluttered and disheveled at the moment. Still, it is one of the places I can count on to help slow my breathing and lower my blood pressure.

I am sentimentally attached to the stuff that surrounds me on this porch. The old wicker furniture came from my Nan’s house. I’ve covered the outdated floral cushions with bright yellow and navy blue fabric to coordinate with the blue and yellow bird-patterened fabric I brought back from Rwanda that covers the chair cushion. The wedding ring quilt came from my Mama. It’s just heavy enough to bring comfort and reassurance when I need it, and to counteract the chill when I need that.

The legs of the pub table and stools, that we picked up for under $100 15 years ago, got a fresh coat of canary yellow paint and some more bird patterned oil cloth on the tabletop and seats last season. The bookcase that holds bird seed, the bucket of clothespins, miscellaneous gardening tools, and a cribbage board came from my childhood bedroom. So did the gingerjar lamp. Next to the lamp, there’s a blue willow bowl filled with rocks collected on various adventures.

There are bells hanging on the screen door that came from a friend in India. Their ringing is supposed to ward off bad spirits, and even if they don’t, the bells let us know when the cat is trying to escape. The string of Tibetan prayer flags came from an outing with a sisterfriend to an unexpected international bazaar hidden on the grounds of a colonial era farm on the Rhode Island coast. The thermometer that came from the Oldest Country Store in the US has a picture of a black lab that looks like our old pup, Kona. The hurricane lamp with the pillar candle in it came from my daughter’s wedding.

Scattered about are hats, shoes (so many shoes), cat toys, a mini disc golf set, pellets for the wood stove, wood chips for the smoker, random tools.. . There are chipped and missing floor tiles by the door. There are cracks in the grout.

My screen porch is never going to get a layout in a home decor magazine.

It’s still my favorite room in the house. From every seat there is a view of gardens and at least one bird feeder. The wisteria has filled in along the pergola that adjoins the porch. For the brief week that it is in full bloom, the scent is heavenly.

It was here on the porch that I saw the blue jays dive bomb the squirrel that threatened THEIR bird feeder. It was here on the porch that I saw that Mr. C., my favorite cardinal, had mated and built a nest in the giant arbor vitae in my gnome garden. It was here on the porch that I saw the hawk land on my swing. From my perch here on the porch, I saw the World’s Largest Ground Hog OPEN the gate to our vegetable beds and have himself a snack before waddling back to our wood pile for a nap.

It was here on the porch that my husband and I had virtual happy hours and pretended to go on dates at the start of the pandemic. It was here on the porch that I have celebrated birthdays and graduations. It was here on the porch that I held two different religious retreats–one solo, one with a sisterfriend. It was here on the porch that I sought solace when my father died, when my son was hospitalized, when two of my closest friends drowned.

For the moment, I have the porch to myself. My boys are off playing disc golf, and the rest of the clan that is assembling for a July 4th cookout won’t arrive until this afternoon.

It is good.

Where do you go to catch some calm and peace?

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