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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Mornings on the Porch

Awake before sunrise (when clouds permit its eventual witness), I pad barefoot to the front porch for a novel left unfinished the evening before. But first there must be fresh coffee made, and while it brews I step outside to scatter yesterday’s grounds on rain-damp soil around iris and feverfew. One of the very satisfying aspects of late June is this effortless passing from indoors to enclosed porch to outdoors, as if all were one continuous living space.

Then, window open to birdsong, first cup of hot coffee at hand, dog at my feet, I settle in happily with my book, and when the last page has been reached (or what my dad always called “a good stopping place”), the dog and I go out for our first walk of the day. She takes careful inventory of new aromas on dewy grass, and I collect a handful of wildflowers, a.k.a. weeds – purple vetch, white bladder campion, yellow cinquefoil – for a little glass pitcher on the porch table. It is not a flower arrangement, only a higgledy-piggledy gathering.

From an old bookcase newly installed at the reading end of the porch (one end is for reading, one for dining, and both for sociable conversation, as the hour and occasion suggest) I pull the June 2010 issue of Poetry magazine but must confess it was letters to the editor that first capture my attention. Each letter presents its writer’s personality so clearly, with an entire range of attitudes and values, that I can almost see the men and women who were moved to write to the editor.

Work break: Load up the washing machine.

Now with a second cup of coffee, a thick volume of essays by Isaiah Berlin comes to hand, and I am wide awake, brain buzzing. Berlin is such a congenial thinker – congenial to my way of thought, of course that is. I’ve read that he was a lively and fascinating dinner companion, too. Much like David Hume, perhaps? (Le bon David, the latter was called.) It is lovely to be lost in philosophical debate and communing with a brilliant mind as morning light filters through the leaves outside the window.

Porch time does not last forever, of course. When silence from the laundry room tells me that the moment has come to hang wash out on the line, I rise from my couch of leisure. The sun is fully up.

But what is that, out on the hill? The dog and I spy something from the porch door and freeze, as does a lovely doe, big ears horizontal and wary. Sarah gives a faint, low woof, and the doe leaps away, tiny fawn close behind. And in the backyard, while I am busy with wet laundry and clothespins, Sarah sniffs around in the rhubarb where surely a bunny must be hiding. She is enjoying her morning, too.

Another morning, sometime after my 5 a.m. rising, a thunderstorm bursts out, and rain pours down on the porch roof. Not only am I cozy inside with today’s pre-dawn book (Parnassus on Wheels, by Christopher Morley), but weather precludes laundry, which is good because I have extra-early errands today in Suttons Bay.

And so, soon my dog and I will be on our way, first to do errands and then for a day in the bookstore, and we will enjoy our hours in the public world, too. But oh, the morning on the porch! How it fuels my spirit!

"When do you find time to read?" This is part of my answer.

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