Front yard sitting

Rick Watson
Posted 9/18/16

I bought a new garden bench for the shady area in our front yard. I bought it because it was a great deal on something I’d wanted for a long time, but I got a time machine in the bargain.

We have a big yard, but I knew at once where I wanted to …

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Front yard sitting

Posted

I bought a new garden bench for the shady area in our front yard. I bought it because it was a great deal on something I’d wanted for a long time, but I got a time machine in the bargain.

We have a big yard, but I knew at once where I wanted to put the bench. There is a place under the mountainous water oak in our front yard that stays shady ten months out of the year. Even in August when it’s hot enough to bake a quiche in the cab of my truck, it’s not bad sitting under that oak.

All of our citrus and tropical plants that we bring inside when the weather gets cold spend the summer under that tree. I settled the new bench amongst the greenery and it looks as if it’s been there forever.

That first evening, both Jilda and I poured a tall glass of sweet tea and went out to give the new bench a try. Just then, our niece drove over the hill in front of our house and tooted her horn. We waved in stereo.

A few minutes later, I heard our great nephew Jordan running up the hill ahead of his mom. He had to come and inspect the new addition to our front yard. He nestled in between us and a smile spread across his face. “I like it,” he pronounced.

Jilda stepped inside and got him one of her world-famous homemade lemonade popsicles. He was in heaven.

As we sat there enjoying the evening, it occurred to me that people don’t sit on their front porch or in their front yards anymore. I’m not sure if it’s fear or they don’t want to breathe un-air conditioned air, but I rarely see anyone at home sitting outside.

When I was young, almost everyone in our community spent the waning moments before dusk on their porches. My great grandmother was a professional when it came to evening porch-sitting.

She had a small can that sat on her porch banister not far from her swing. In the can were cedar wood shavings along with a unique blend of other ingredients. Each evening when she went out to enjoy the remainder of the day, she’d light the shavings and a little smoke that smelled of expensive incense, wafted across her porch driving gnats and mosquitos away. I don’t think I’ve seen a gnat-smoke, as she called it, since then. She’d sit out there until dark listening to mourning doves and whip-o-wills calling to each other.

Almost all of our neighbors spent evenings on the front porch. You could hear them calling to each other across the evening stillness, asking about family and friends. It’s how we kept in touch. Kind of like Facebook without a computer. These days, the velocity of life has increased exponentially leaving little time to sit out in the front yard and visit with neighbors. I’m as guilty as the next person, but I can tell you I think our ancestors were on to something because during our time sitting on our new garden bench, it seemed the stress from the day melted.

When Jilda and I stood to go inside for supper, we both felt a little taller.

Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book Life Goes On is available on Amazon.com.