© Another Day in the Country
It’s a little after 7 a.m., and I’m sitting on my porch drinking tea and nibbling on yesterday’s coffee cake that I make about once a year. I’m reading a book by Pam Houston, “Contents May Have Shifted.” Her first book and it’s pretty good, like sitting down with a friend, sharing life stories.
My perch is pretty idyllic if you stop and consider. Spacious porch, white railings, soft sunshine, no wind. The table is covered with a lavender-flowered, pale green cloth. There are matching seat pillows on the green chairs that once were Aunt Naomi’s. When I sit out here on a crispy morning in my nightshirt, those padded pillows feel mighty comfy.
These aren’t just any old pillows either. They are a genuine, authentic, Martha Stewart designed set that I found in a knock-off sale bin at K-Mart a couple of years ago. I got them home and, cheap as they were, I almost took them back because they didn’t match anything at my house. I keep trying to find a place for them, some use for them — even tried giving them away to Jess, no takers. And here they are finally with a home of their own, on the side porch, gracing an old rickety table and chairs. Did I say that there is a small terra cotta pot on the table with matching flowers? It looks like a page out of Country Living Magazine.
I’m up this early because the cat was whining at the door. He wanted out. He wanted in. He wanted some kind of cat food that wasn’t that mishmash of pink glom that they’ve used to replace Mixed Grill in the cheaper section of cat world. He won’t eat it — no matter the brand — and I’ll be switched if I’m going to buy those fancy little tid-bit cans at 75 cents a shot. So he whines.
Ramona is quiet at this hour — even quieter than usual. There’s a bunny nibbling on the clover not 10 feet away, looking at me. His ears are pink, translucent with the morning sun shining through. “So that’s where they get the idea that bunnies have pink ears,” I say to myself. The bunny is noncommittal. A buddy lops across the street with his mouth full of cabbage leaves.
“You little stinker,” I glare at him, “You’ve been in my garden!” He chews slowly, eyeing me and my hostility.
A flycatcher flashes his yellow belly. I can hear a mockingbird singing from the telephone wire, but I can’t see him. There’s a dove in the road pecking at something presumably edible and a robin hunting bugs on the lawn. A rooster crows in the distance. It isn’t one of mine. And then my rooster answers the call from the backyard.
I’m looking over at my garden. It’s so pretty this time of year, this time of morning. The weeds are under control. The hail has missed Ramona. The bugs are still young, nibbling instead of devouring. It’s a teenage garden, fruitless, pristine and full of promise: potatoes, onions, beets, cabbage, carrots and tomatoes, in a month or two. Yesterday I planted a row of flowers — every kind of seed that I had all mixed together: bachelor buttons, cosmos, zinnia, hollyhocks, marigolds. We’ll see what happens. If they are too thick, they’re all transplantable.
A screen door slams and I look up to see my sister all dressed up for the day coming out her back door, heading for her car. She’s going to “the office” a whole block away — short commute. She’s the city clerk, today is city council, and she’s getting ready. In a minute, the phone will ring and she’ll be calling to remind me of something I’m supposed to do that she is supposing I won’t remember. She’s touching bases, crossing things off her list, and doesn’t realize that I have a list of my own which I am keeping at bay for just a little while longer.
There are six big flowerpots sitting here on the porch. I’ve just filled them with loot from the greenhouse in Abilene: geranium, petunia, lobelia, pansies — familiar names nestled in with plants whose names I can’t remember but I wanted to try. All the flowers are planted. If I had any money left I could buy more, now. “Now” is the important word in that sentence because of my rule, “No more plants until the ones you’ve already purchased are planted.”
Some years my want list gets ahead of my to-do list and some of those shallow rooted plants have languished in the sun without having found a home. What a waste!
“Does that grass need mowing?” I ask myself, eyeing the lawn. Maybe. I’m, by nature, a little quick on the trigger when it comes to mowing. I like to mow. I love the look of flat green lawns and the smell of freshly cut grass. (I take after my Dad who even mowed his pastures.) It’s another day in the country and on the days that I feel antsy, discouraged, weary, poor, I must remember that there are also mornings like this!