by Matthew Bruning '20
Though small, my front porch provides me with a steadying presence that belies its size. An overhang, an Adirondack chair, and a welcome mat form the porch I love. No special view separates my porch from any other; instead, it simply peers down the slope of my front yard onto a quiet suburban street. When I laze away the time in the depths of the chair, all the worries and to-do lists of daily life just melt away. Often, I find myself walking up the stairs to the porch from a tiring workout at the gym nearby, having just enough energy to ease back into the Adirondack chair.
One day, after a workout, I happened to procrastinate especially well and didn’t return to my usual spot until around sunset. I plopped down, removed my headphones, and breathed deeply a few times, with the endorphins releasing and my shaky muscles jittering. Maybe the adrenalin had heightened my senses, but I started to notice that sticky heat characterizing late August. The air felt comforting and enveloping with its humid calm.
From one breath to another, I inhaled the scents of freshly mowed grass and the pine of the Adirondack. Like a witch’s cauldron, grass and pine brewed into a familiar, musty smell reminiscent of my grandmother’s living room. This strange mixture and the rise and fall of my chest lulled me into a dreamy state of awe at the surrounding nature.
The tips of the trees flamed with the sun’s fading light, hazily mixing dark greens and warm oranges together. These last rays of sun, which broke through the wall of oaks, bathed the porch in a cozy glow. I could feel the heat radiate down to my fingers and toes. I became aware of my perspiring palms gripping the smoothed edges of the armrests, of my clenched toes running over the cotton knots of the sock, and of my synthetic shirt sticking to the ridges of the chair.
A squirrel rustled in the magnolia tree to my left, frantically pattering from one branch to another, perhaps questing for a nut never to be found. I thought how strange it was that he was unable to appreciate the serenity of the moment at hand, even as my own eyelids drooped.
The bark of the neighbor’s dog slapped me out of my semi-conscious state. In the seconds I had been in falling into sleep, the scraggly cirrus and fluffy cumulus clouds had warped the oranges of the sky into deep blues and magentas. A bird, outlined in black, flew against this colorful backdrop, wings nearly reaching the extended limbs of the oaks, whose shadows grew by the second.
In front of me, the only sound were the crickets and robins humming and jabbering away. No car rumbled, no footsteps pattered, no wind rustled in the trees. Even the neighbor’s dog had fallen silent. The warmth of seconds before had been ousted by the cool embrace of the quickly-approaching twilight, though the humid air remained.
I realized how stiff I had become and how hungry I was becoming. My dry tongue reminded my brain of the water cooler in the fridge, which was only one opened door and a few steps away.
After one long breath and a heave upwards, I stood, stretched, and plodded inside.