Life from the Porch


“This is Catherine Hinds.  Buddy wanted me to call and let you know that he seen a turkey this morning come out across the road from our house, a gobbler, and he went back in the woods going toward your place.  He wanted me to call and tell you.  Seen his beard hanging down.  I thought I’d call and tell you.  This is Catherine Hines and my phone number is XXX-XXX-XXXX.  It’s uh…What time is it?  It’s 12:03, is what time it is.  Thought I’d call and tell you.  Bye.”

This was on my voicemail last Friday.

Catherine and Buddy are my neighbors.  The live in the next to the last house before the last house on a rutted-up red clay road.

She is 89, he 92.  They are porch-sitters.  Neither can hear well, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with their eyesight.  Nothing comes down that road without notice.

Needless-to-say, I don’t have a security system.  Be a waste of good money.

The last time I stopped and visited (which was way too long ago), we all sat on the porch and talked turkey.  Mostly the lack thereof.  I bemoaned the fact that the wild turkey had disappeared in the last couple of years.  Every Fall for 20 years I watched droves of hens pass through green fields and oak flats as I waited for a glimpse of a deer.  Every Spring, gobbling like thunder on ridges all around.  Now I can’t even find a track.  Buddy, who has lived on this same plot of ground his entire life (except for the War, of course), was just as perplexed.

Thus, the reason for the voicemail — turkey sighting.

The Redhead and I stopped and visited the next day to thank Ms. Catherine for the call.  The ladies chatted while Buddy and I hashed-out our theories about the mysterious turkey decline.

The conversation soon turned to the community.

Catherine said we have new neighbors in the next house back up the road.  They keep to themselves.  Looks like they’re going to be good neighbors.

Wednesday is her “go to town” day.  The grocery store is a good one.  It used to be a Food Town.  Now it’s Renfroe’s, but she said she still calls it Food Town because that was the name for so many years.  She knows everybody that works there by name and they know her too.  It’s not a big store, but they have everything you need.  Meat’s good too.

Buddy said the timber on the Nelson place just up the road was recently cut.  Billy Dennis cut it. Buddy knew his daddy.  He was a fine man.  Lived about three miles up the road.  Died about ten years ago.  The lady who owns that land now lives up north somewhere.  She was a Boone, you know, before she got married.  This country used to be just slam eat-up with Boones.  She stopped last time she was down.  Wanted some red berries off that bush out back.  Told her that she could have the whole damn thing if she wanted to dig it up.  Her land, now, they sure skinned that place, but Billy said they were going to set it back out or seed it with pines or however they do that stuff next Winter.  He couldn’t remember it looking so “clean” since they used to farm it.

This goes on without pause the next thirty minutes, a seemingly random conversation, but really a chain of thoughts, each link leading to the next topic, all within a few miles from the house.

We eventually excuse ourselves.  Our dogs are in the truck and we need to “get on down the road.”

Buddy said what he always does.  “You’ll stop again next time you pass.”

We have to pass to get to our house.

I tell the Redhead that Buddy and Catherine have a better life than us.

She doesn’t understand my thinking, can’t see how I could believe such a thing.  Just two old folks living in a little house on the same plot of ground for the last sixty years.

I see it differently.  No computer.  No cellphone.  No Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest.  No Fox, CNN, MSNBC.  No Left, Right, Center.  No Trump, Peolsi, Biden, Bernie.  No Venezuela, China, North Korea.  Not much interest in the workings of the world more than a few miles from home.

Really not much interest in anything that can’t be seen from the porch.

All they have is each other.  It’s their world, and that suits them just fine.

I think that’s about as good as life can get.

18 thoughts on “Life from the Porch

  1. Yes, they have each other, but they also have an look forward to talking to you and your wife. A beautiful slice of time before all the social media stuff that takes away from sitting on the porch for entertainment. Beautifully written, as usual.

    1. Thanks Felipe.

      I thought of your point when I wrote this.

      Hemingway said “When two people really love each other there can be no happy ending.”

      I think he was right.

  2. I CONCUR, keeping life simple is difficult nowadays. I try not to get to involved in all the cafluffery going on, I read the news just to keep up with all the tomfoolery. Nice read Ray, life needs to be more simple. Leaving Mexico soon and my little house here, don’t venture out too much. Life is simple and good.

    1. Thanks Bob. You be careful on the ride back. I hope to make a trip like that someday (I’m not taking any kind of rides at the moment. My bike’s in the shop).

  3. Love, love and more love this read. All about simpler times and how folks converse with ‘the news’ of importance in their lives. My grandparents were this way and they too sat on the porch watching the news and were always more than willing to share it with others who happened by. Thanks for the memories Ray. And be sure and stop a spell at Buddy and Catherin’s porch…if you’ve got an hour or two to spare. A great way to lower blood pressure and slow up a bit.

    1. Thank you Lisa. It’s that “hour or two to spare” that enters into the equation. But truth told, it’s always worth it. I think I probably enjoy it morethan they do.

  4. Great writing. I do envy them as I fight through the hustle and bustle of Birmingham traffic. When I retire I Am living on a dirt road!

  5. Having living in both rural and city atmosphere’s this caught my attention as porches in big cities are not even present anymore but people getting to know each other is also dwindling down. I have always tried to get to know my neighbors as I love people and the trend now is no one has time.
    You touched many a good memory in this comment. People are changing and the fast pace life is not for the best. The youth of today don’t know what neighborly even means. Picking up the phone to call and talk “Turkey” is something America needs more of. Thank you.

  6. Enjoyed the read! Love how you perfectly captured rambling conversations that are common in rural Alabama!

Leave a Reply to robert clifton Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s