© 2010 Aaron Atkinson


Movies often portray old men sitting on their front porches watching life go by. I sometimes wonder what the allure of front porch watching could possibly be, until I recently got a glimpse of life in the porch lane. While I scaled my house via a 35 foot fiberglass ladder, I observed some pretty incredible things….

A pink sunset stained the sky as I finished up caulking an upstairs window. I heard an air-slicing whoosh! and looked up to see a dozen mourning doves barreling through the dusk sky en route to their roost. At a distance of less than ten feet the flight of these little gray rockets leaves a distinctive auditory vapor trail.

Speaking of birds, my Asian neighbors across the street in the mustard color house keep odd hours. They arrived home one evening in an old white van. When they opened the back door we heard chickens clucking. We surmised that their odd hours may come as a result of their restaurant ownership.

A trio of motorcycles roared up to the yield sign that bisects my street. In typical machismo style they revved their engines and peeled onto my street. The first two briefly fishtailed, but the third bike hit some grit on the road and lost control. He laid his bike down as it slid across the street. Glass and plastic shattered and the bike dug a superficial scar into the asphalt. In response to Laura’s query regarding his state he could only swear at his “stupid, bleep, bleep bike.” We agree. Motorcycles are stupid.

The mother in the blue house across the street backed her green van into her driveway. The crash and sound of splintering lumber drew my attention away from my priming. She had backed her minivan into the railing on their porch, demolishing it.

Husband: (yelling) Well expletive¬†expletive¬†expletive!!! Look what you’ve done to the expletive¬†handrail!

Wife: I’m sorry! I’ve always hated that railing anyway.

Their kids laughed.

I consciously held back my laughter, not wanting to evoke the gods of ladder-falling-karma.

Finally, as we were repairing the wood rot on the front of the house, a young family with a black lab walked by on their afternoon stroll. Looking at the dark stain of water damage on the front of my house he asked, “Oh my goodness, did you have a fire?”

Me: Nope. Just some water damage.

(It looked that bad!)

Guy: Good to hear. A fire would have been worse.

True. Good perspective. A fire would have been worse. It can always get worse.

I could have been a chicken in a box, a stupid scraped motorcycle, or a splintered expletive handrail.

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