Winter is wintering around my porch. Too cold to be out there writing even though it’s my new favorite spot. Golden, brown, and red leaves still decorate my oaks and the ground beneath them. Our house philosophy is “we will remove no leaves before it’s time”. “Time” means there are no golden, brown or red leaves on the branches. “Time” means that Santa may have to wade through leaves to get to our house if he approaches from the river side and misses the rooftop. “Time” means that our neighbor and lovely friend has generously agree to spend an afternoon blowing our leaves off the yard and down the hill. “Time” means we might be about to host a party on the porch—Love those words. Room to move around and spread out. We even have a heater on that porch—so far we’ve only used it twice. Winter has only teased us until recently.
My porch has proven a cozy spot to write—not today—and a place for sumptuous meals, naps, and aerobic activity…what? Hmm?? What’s the shift from those previous porch activities… enter Fred. Actually Fred probably entered my porch a month or so ago when I brought my plants that summered in the backyard while my screened porch was in process. Fred previously lived on my “not screened” porch when those plants lived on my tiny back porch—one could have referred to it as a “stoop” if it hadn’t had 18+ steps from the river garden.
Fred has shared then new, previously referred to as screened, back porch with us for several weeks but had managed to stay hidden most days. Since he frequently showed himself on the stoop while I was watering, and since river life has accustomed me to all kinds of critters, I was not surprised that he too preferred my new back porch. It doesn’t host cats or snakes or birds. Fred is a lizard. A chameleon to be exact. He’s about as big as my hand—long that is. And he can move quickly. Fred had winked at me one day from the eave near the screen door. Duke Boy was with me so we just winked back. We knew that Fred would provide that extra protection that can’t always be provided by screens.
Things were rocking along pretty well for Fred until the night temperatures dictated a need to move my plants—mainly begonias—indoors. I only gave it a passing thought that Fred might be hitchhiking indoors from the cold too. Fred’s cousin, or perhaps twin, had once posed as a lizard statue under a dishtowel on our kitchen counter during a summer of screened door openings. I knew it could happen.
What happened instead was Fred showed out sunbathing as if at the Grand Isle Resort while Queen Elizabeth was also enjoying the pre-winter sunshine. I saw him but had chosen to ignore his shameless “own the place” behavior. What ensued was me, a broom, and Queen E not wanting that thing in her bed. It was better than any treadmill work I’ve ever done. Fred should be in the Olympics. Fred and I ran up and down behind the settee and up and down the screen. I even opened the door and let in a wasp so Fred could run out.
I am proud to report that Fred still suns on that porch since I’m a failure at lizard removal. I named him so Queen E could envision him as a friend rather than a reptile. I think that’s the category for lizards??? The Queen was unimpressed with my reptile removal skills and my naming. She still wants the porch doors shut so he won’t visit her room. Fred will have to snuggle under the porch blankie today. I’ve made it a point to shake it out before using it on a chilly evening.
Peace to all of you this Thanksgiving weekend. If you see Fred out he may be sporting a tiny hounds tooth scarf so he’ll fit in with the rest of the crowd on the porch.
Karen Erwin-Brown is the director of the Valley office of the Pastoral Institute. She offers individual, marriage and family counseling by appointment only. Call 334-768-2341 to make an appointment or more information.