I've asked students in my Nature and Environmental Writing class to keep a blog about a special place, and I'm committed to doing that myself for the fall.
The place I've chosen is my front porch, which looks out on my front lawn as well as has a view onto much of the rest of my neighborhood. I live in Bloomfield, a few houses off of Penn Avenue. I can see, from my porch, the store/gas station we call the "ghetto store" because we used to think it was a haven for drug dealers (more about that in a later post), and my neighbor's homes and yards, (more about those later, too). Most importantly, though, I see my front yard. There is a large shade tree with very interesting peeling bark that is probably about 75 years old. It keeps the house cool in summer. I have looked up the name of this tree many times and I keep forgetting it, but I will look it up again for my next post, and maybe this time I'll remember it.
In my yard is also a wild swamp rose, which I planted two years ago. It is a large, hardy rose bush that hardly looks like a rose bush because of its graceful, arching branches. In summer it will bloom once, fragile small roses with a fragrance of sweet lemon and rose. There are two large fountain grasses that are just getting ready to put out their beautiful feathery fans, three azalea bushes, two foxglove plants in bloom. Poison ivy that I keep pulling, Boston Ivy that also threatens to take over. A couple other plants I haven't identified yet, that my neighbor has planted. I'd like to spend at least some of these posts lingering over each living thing in my yard, doing some research on each one and learning more about it.
Porches are really a Pittsburgh thing, and I love mine. I have a wicker swing and a daybed on my porch so I can sit out here as often as I like. Potted plants surround me on the porch, spider plants of different colors, an umbrella plant, a philodendron, begonias and some petunias. I can hear the neighbors' dogs barking, can hear the girls on their cell phone next door, and a man waddles, maybe stoned, down the street. We live in a mixed neighborhood, right on the edge between a "good" area an a "bad" area, and it makes for lots of interesting sites sometimes.
I can hear the bells of the church around the corner telling me it's time to stop for now.