Category Archives: View from the Porch

View from the Porch – Frost as thick as Snow

Don’t even try talking to me before I’ve sucked down a couple of cups of coffee. Coffee must be sucked down while I’m out on the front porch, with a cheap cigar.

Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but as the sky was starting to get lighter and I was anxiously preparing my first cup of coffee, the roof tops I could see out the kitchen window were pure white, it looked like snow.

The neighborhood was covered in a thin layer of white, from lawns to cars to roof tops. Dark patches on roofs gave away where houses could use a bit more insulation. The other morning I mentioned this:

As the sky lightened, a couple of song birds could be heard in the trees in the neighborhood. Their songs didn’t last long, they quickly realized that no response was forthcoming. Give it another month, you’ll get a response.

Looks like they only had to wait a few more days. Singing was coming from all around. Cardinals were easy to pick out, but I could hear three other songs from birds I don’t know by sound. The annoying caws of the crows and the shrill sound the woodpeckers make don’t count.

Last night all the info needed for the financial section of an annual report arrived. This means six days straight of 12 hour days, but I get to work out of the comfort of my home. Ten years ago I used to do 15 annual reports this time of year and each year more disappeared as the work went to India and China. I get email all the time from both offering to help me with my annual reports. Yeah, thanks, but no thanks.

Now, I hear the BP station is hiring and a friend of a friend is one of the managers. My chances are pretty good and they pay a bit better than minimum wage, no benefits. I’m excited at the opportunity.

Monday with the wind, not a single squirrel came to visit. Yesterday only two ventured out. That means today, with the calm winds and blue skies, I should be hearing little knocks at the door and squirrel squeaking that roughly translates to “hey buddy, where’s the fucking peanuts?”

View from the Porch – Nearly Fifty Three Years of Hating Winter

Don’t even try talking to me before I’ve sucked down a couple of cups of coffee. Coffee must be sucked down while I’m out on the front porch, with a cheap cigar.

My first memory of winter, I had to be four years old.

There were five of us living in a one bedroom apartment, the front half of a converted attic. What parents in their right mind wanted three rambunctious kids, thirteen months apart in age, sitting around a three room apartment on any given day. I recall practically living on the streets and in the alleys.

One winter day I found myself out on the front porch. The porch was about seven feet in each direction. Low side walls made of brick, brick columns holding up the front of the small roof. I was dressed for winter. Hood of my heavy coat pulled over my head and scarf wrapped around so only my eyes peered out. I remember looking at my hands, thick mittens. On my feet were buckle up galoshes, my pants were tucked into them. It was usually just gym shoes inside the galoshes.

I couldn’t see across the street, the snow was coming down hard and the wind was blowing it sideways. The porch offered no cover from this storm, small drifts were collecting against the low side walls.

I remember standing perfectly still, staring straight ahead, my arms perfectly straight against my sides and thinking, “I hate winter.”

A few days shy of fifty three years later and I’m out on my front porch. Heavy coat on with hood pulled over my head. I don’t do scarves any more. Gloves on, I hate mittens, that are rated to be good to below freezing. Slippers on my feet.

In my left hand is coffee, my right hand, the first cheap cigar of the day. A ritual I choose not to live without.

The wind is howling, but luckily no snow falling from the sky or on the ground. For as far as I can see, from the sky to the ground, nothing but varying shades of brown and gray. It’s just ugly.

I stand perfectly still except for the lifting of one arm to suck down coffee and the lifting of the other to suck in smoke and I’m thinking, “I hate winter.”

The coffee cup is empty, the cigar butt is tossed on the lawn. I turn and go back into the house.

A few days shy of fifty three years later, at least I have that option.

View from the Porch – Harbingers of Spring

Don’t even try talking to me before I’ve sucked down a couple of cups of coffee. Coffee must be sucked down while I’m out on the front porch, with a cheap cigar.

As the sky lightened, a couple of song birds could be heard in the trees in the neighborhood. Their songs didn’t last long, they quickly realized that no response was forthcoming. Give it another month, you’ll get a response.

As the sky continued to brighten, the goose hum down on the river grew louder.

Last night for the last hour of light I stood along the rivers edge. When I got there, for as far as I could see upstream, massive “V” formations of geese were over the river valley. The bulk of these swung north and east toward Oswego and Montgomery. There were well over a thousand of them heading in that direction.

After a brief lull, the geese began congregating over my head. They would appear as a very organized flock then break off, honking and flying every direction as they jockeyed for landing positions on the river. Again they were showing up by the hundreds. The sound of this many geese while standing so close to them is deafening. My wife called while I was out there… “My god, where the hell are you?” I had to shout into the phone to be heard.

This morning the geese would leave now and then, but in small groups of five or so. The massive migration of them back to the surrounding corn and soybean fields wouldn’t happen till later in the morning.

Two doors down my new neighbors worthless dogs are out in the yard barking incessantly, like they always do. At this point it’s 7:30 AM, on a Sunday. My comment about this on Facebook started a little conversation:

Dear new neighbor two doors down from me,

It’s 7:30 AM on a Sunday and your worthless dogs are in your backyard barking incessantly. Please make them stop or I will.

Signed, your sharp shooting neighbor with a clear shot from my back yard to yours.

Truth be told…its not the dogs fault, take aim on the owner.

Yeah, I know. But I never see them outside. It’s just a very accurate air rifle. I can hit a thigh from here and it will only sting.

Probably not a good idea…

Let the police handle it.

Tranquilizer and peanut butter…

Oh I know, I know, but a man can dream, can’t he? She’s an owner and the rumor is she wants nothing to do with us lowly renters in the neighborhood. I hate bugging the police for such stupid things. She’s the third owner of this house since I started RENTING on this street seven years ago. Maybe she won’t last. One can always hope.

On the dog or the owner?

View from the Porch – Clouds of Geese, a Pissed off Dog and Tracks in the Snow

Don’t even try talking to me before I’ve sucked down a couple of cups of coffee. Coffee must be sucked down while I’m out on the front porch, with a cheap cigar.

Last night at dusk I stood out on my front porch and watched the geese return to the river by the hundreds. The bulk of them flew directly over my house at tree top level. The noise coming off the river two blocks away was unreal and deafening. So far this morning they have yet to leave, but they’re quieter. The noise is slowly building and it shouldn’t be long before they’re all heading inland, somewhere. If they come back at dusk today, I have to go record the sound. It’s too hard to describe.

I get 4-5 hours of relatively solid sleep a night, after that it’s a crap shoot on whether I’ll fall asleep again. Last night I passed out early, which found me wide awake at 1 A.M. An hour later the Tiki Dog starts barking. She has three distinct barks. One is the “I have to go out and shit and piss” bark, the second is the “I’m just fucking with the cats” bark and the third is the “I’m pissed off at something” bark that includes a few low level growls thrown in for good measure.

This was option three. The wife rolls over, tells her to shut up and promptly begins snoring again. I don’t know how the hell she does that.

I considered getting out of bed to see what was going on, but around here it’s usually a raccoon or possum that’s decided to come rummage around under the front window. Or a coyote wandering down the street, no big deal.

Out on the porch this morning with coffee and a cigar, I see the footprints across my front lawn. Human prints, big feet with a long stride, so someone definitely bigger than me.

I followed them around the neighborhood. They were coming from the direction of the ravine. Across my neighbors lawn and they walked up to the backyard gate of the next neighbor. Across the end of the dead end street and down the drive way of the house I used to rent on the edge of the ravine. Across and around the house next door. When I get to that neighbors yard, the neighbor is out getting ready to go to work. I tell him what I’m doing and we follow the tracks to where they disappear near a trail that comes up out of the ravine.

We shrug it off. “Not a very smart human being” says the neighbor, “I have no qualms about shooting stupid people that think they need to come in my house.”

I find it odd how that attitude came about for me. Not sure it’s even a conscious decision. I hunt, I’m an aberration in the family. Shoot a deer, shoot a duck, a goose, a pheasant, a squirrel, an intruder that tries to walk into your house uninvited. It’s all the same on a certain level.

Not good or bad or something I worry about or think about much, it is what it is.

View from the Porch – Squirrels, Bald Eagles and the Annoying Neighborhood Dogs

Don’t even try talking to me before I’ve sucked down a couple of cups of coffee. Coffee must be sucked down while I’m out on the front porch, with a cheap cigar.

Every morning when I step out onto my porch, the squirrels come running. Sometimes it will be just one, other days up to a half dozen. Three of them have got used to taking peanuts directly out of my hand with one in particular being extremely brave about the whole thing. He’ll run up to me, touch my foot and get up on his haunches till I head for where the peanuts are kept. They all know where that is and will continue to bug me till I go get them.

Today the squirrels were running a little late. Everything was covered in ice and snow from the great storm that was blown way out of proportion by the news media. Neither ice nor snow amounted to much, but I would imagine hurrying along branches covered in a thin layer of ice is not a smart thing for a squirrel to do.

Through the trees I could see a bald eagle fly down the river heading in the direction of the dam. A few minutes later a couple of juvenile eagles drifted at tree top level over my head. They seem to be doing this more often and I can’t figure out why. My hopes are that they’ve given up on fish and are coming to get some of the worthless neighborhood dogs.

We used to have deer and turkey that wandered through the neighborhood on a regular basis, but we now have a couple of new neighbors living in the houses right next to the ravine and they have a need it seems to leave their dogs out all the time. Haven’t seen a deer or turkey since. I saw a video once of an eagle chasing a mountain goat down a mountain. It would be entertainment at it’s finest to see these eagles chasing down these dogs through the ravine.

Fresh rabbit tracks were in the snow and soft ice directly in front of the porch. A rare sight considering the amount of hawks and falcons in the neighborhood. The rabbit must have a pretty good hiding place it can get to in a hurry.

The other morning while out feeding my aggressive little squirrel, I thought I would try to get a picture of him. I had fed him a couple of peanuts by hand then tossed a few more on the ground. I got up close to the peanut pile with camera in hand and waited. He apparently didn’t see me toss down the peanuts, came right up to me and started to grab the camera. He knew I must have a peanut in my hand somewhere and he wasn’t going to let a camera stand in his way.

It’s hard to get a picture when a squirrel has a paw wrapped around your finger, it’s nose pressed against the lens and he’s trying to pull the camera out of your hand. I settled for something a little more subdued when he finally figured out where the peanuts were.

After a brief departure about a week ago, the ducks and geese are back down on the river by the hundreds. This morning, quacks and honks coming from the river are non-stop and the geese are forever circling over head in loose “V” formations looking for landing spots. Like the worthless neighborhood dogs, the waterfowl also never seem to settle down, only I find the noise of the ducks and geese much more tolerable.