Ramblings of a Happy Mind #2
By Nita Wilson
My house has a large back porch built as an afterthought once my mother bought this house in 1993. She loved to sit of an afternoon and watch the squirrels and enjoy her drink before dinner. When I moved in after her death in 2000, I also enjoyed the big back porch overlooking a very large yard full of various trees planted by the woman who built the house in 1965. She was a professor of botany at USM, so the yard is full of trees I can’t identify. I have the remnants of a large Chestnut tree Katrina ate. I have Sassafras trees and Umbrella trees and a tree with a strange trunk full of stickers and rough bark. The majority of the trees are local, Oaks, Black gum, Magnolias that never bloom plus Camellias, Azaleas, Mimosa, Crepe Myrtle so tall, the blooms are thirty feet up, and a large Magnolia Fescatta (sp),that fills the yard with the scent of bananas twice a year. The main wonder is “Bill” my Chinquapin Oak that shades almost the whole yard. But I digress. When I moved in, the big moving van brought my things from Los Angeles, and I decided to make the back porch a little bit of Provence. I was working in New Orleans and found a wonderful upholsterer to make tailored cushions, bright solid colored sail clothe with white piping for the big cypress swing, the cypress glider and the wrought iron chairs that went with the small marble table and the big glass table. Oh, the porch screamed welcome to guests and family. Friend from New Orleans loved to come for the week-end to get out of the city and relax on the porch. Martini’s and wine flowed like… well…. Martini’s and wine. I found huge clay flower pots at Sam’s Club that year and bordered my patio with a wonder of color in pots like the houses in Los Angeles. I ordered a small iron Gazebo and planted wisteria in one of the huge pots on one side and Confederate Jasmine on another. This was such a treat from the tiny yard I had in Los Angeles, I was home, with a capital H. When I retired in 2008, I needed something more for my little bit of oasis in a southern city. I bought a beautiful decorative water fountain to go over the nice little pond my niece gave me and installed one Christmas. The only thing missing was a dog or two to bring warm life to this homey venue of Provence. OOPS “Don’t do it” said my sister. “Don’t do it” said my friends. “Don’t do it” said my yard man. Never one to follow good advice, I brought home the ‘wrecking balls’, ‘pot breakers’, ‘pillow eaters’, ‘cushion chewers’, ‘hole diggers’, ‘grass poopers’, ‘flower plant eating’, ‘dust carrying’, ‘hair shedding’, house mates, Bronte and Dash. I’d like to paint you a picture of my back area now. Notice I say area: the word yard doesn’t really apply anymore. There is only a modicum of grass left in this dusty, creek bed sand filled, full of holes, once a yard, space. I can’t walk in the grass for all the ‘poop mines’. The big cypress swing is bare with the graying slats the only seat. No more colorful cushions to laze back on and read a book on a nice afternoon. The big glider is covered in old blankets full of dog hair and leaves. The tailored cushions are all put away in the shed for future days. The beautiful matching iron chairs for the marble table are neatly stacked against the railing. The two gorgeous wicker chairs are covered with dust, but one was a favorite of two puppies and is so chewed and the little wicker wrapped wires so sprung that the damned thing looks like Albert Einstein of a windy day. The entire area is so covered with dust; I feel like I’m in the dust bowl of Oklahoma ready to pack and head to California. Dash, being the long haired half of the duo, loves to get on the marble table and stay cool. She has taken it as her bed, and eating area. She not only sleeps on it in the mid day, but she will only eat lying on the cool table with her bowl resting in a tall plant stand at mouth level. Bronte still eats like a real dog, standing on the floor of the porch, but even my young nephew knows to feed the dogs, one bowl on the plant stand for Dash and the other on the floor for Bronte. I sit at my desk and look out over the porch and backyard and pray my books make money. I have no energy to keep the ‘Ma and Pa Kettle’ place cleaned and can’t afford professionals. Besides, professionals would have to come at least twice a week to keep it dust and dog hair free. It’s all I can do to keep the dog hair under control in the house. For dog lovers, you’ll understand and find this amusing. For non dog lovers, well, what can I say? Who cuddles up to you when you’ve had a bad day? Who’d protect you to the death when that strange noise happens in the night? Who sits on either side of you when you battle the dust to have a nice cup of coffee on the big swing? Who doesn’t care if you change the channel a bazillion times while you watch TV? Who’s so damned glad to have their own bedroom, they don’t care where you keep the thermostat? Who’s more frightened of thunder than you and makes you feel better? Well… well… so there…. Huh?