Good Ole Porch Sittin’

It occurs to me that I have not hiked higher into the Black Mountains in over a month. My mind can journey across lifetimes and road trips of the imagination for hours on end as I get lost in my reading assignments for the MFA, but nothing replaces the sweat and brawn of a good hike in the woods.

But I try to replace it by reading one hundred pages of Bank’s The Wonder Spot on the porch, where there is a tiny window between two red oak trees that opens up to a view of Celo Knob. Between chapters I eye the mountain, notice the pattern of clouds and later mist that tease the acid-scorched hemlocks on the ridgeline.

Wasps crawl on my legs and arms and I remain still, unwilling to harm them and, as a practicing Buddhist, unsure about how to deal with the six growing nests beneath the ten-foot long awning above where I sit. I hear an unusually slow, steady cruuuuunch at the porch’s edge and look up to see a five and a half foot long black snake slithering across the sun-soaked clearing at the bottom of the porch steps. I move slowly, wasps still clinging to my limbs, to get a better view of the snake. It becomes startled and slithers humbly under the porch. Later, two young horseflies chew on my fingers and when I take a break to play the Martin, blood rushes to my fingers and the bites swell and itch, doubling the width of each finger.

But I have no complaints. My pores are rich with the warmth of the sun and I can see that I am not unlike that slithering snake, just trying to soak it all up. I put off the moral dilemma of the wasps for another day and promise myself one good hike this week if I can get through the essay I’m writing.

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