We often eat out on our back patio—I don’t know why I say “back” because we don’t have one on the front. And our patio is not very extravagant—it measures roughly 12 feet by 50 feet. There is no roof over it, but there is a six foot wooden fence encircling the whole back area, with a large gate at the far end.
Come to think of it, I don’t know whether the whole area is a patio, or just the part that has a cement floor. If that is the patio, then it is only about 8 by 18. From the inside of the house a double door looks like it leads out to the patio, but one of the doors is fake, making it look grand, although it has no other purpose.
That is not quite true—it lets light in, especially in the afternoon when the sun is more to the west. The cement area has a one foot roof extension over the doors area—like the builder got tired and couldn’t do more. There is a window that we can look through from our bedroom to the patio area—except that we never open the blinds.
As I write this, it is mid-June in Central Texas where we live and the temperature hovers around 100 degrees F at noon. If we wait until 3 for an afternoon break, and sit in the patio, it will be even warmer. Although I like to sit out in the heat, my wife doesn’t like it and thinks I am quite odd to enjoy such torture. We did live overseas for many years and sometimes in very tropical areas. Maybe she wants to forget that?
Our fence is made of rough upright slabs of wood and when it gets hot and dry—like it is now—the slabs shrink a bit and we can see our neighbor’s yard better than we would like. There are two women and one man who live in a lot over the fence, but not in our townhouse compound. We can see them if we stand up and we can smell their cigarette smoke from any position. They obviously can’t see us—or at least pay no attention to us—because one of the men has taken a leak in his back yard a couple of times when I was (inadvertently) watching.
We have a small round wrought iron table and some matching chairs on the patio that our family rescued from their garage, plus two outdoor chairs, so we often eat out there. Again, my wife joins me but I’m not sure she enjoys “eating out” although she does appreciate our hanging baskets of flowers.
“It’s awful hot today,” she says. “Yes,” I reply, “it is always hot in Texas in June. But there is a wind blowing.” A little later: “I hate these flies.” I look around. “There are not many today,” I reply.
My wife, not much later: “Something is biting me—why do they always pick on me.” I want to reply that her blood must be sweeter than mine but decide to change the subject.
“The crepe myrtles are coming out early this year.” “Yes, and the wind is blowing their pink blossoms all over the place—but they are pretty.”
I am about to agree when our air conditioning starts up. It makes a fierce growl, betraying its 21 years of service, then settles down into a high-pitched hum and whine. That doesn’t bother us much because we are both hard of hearing.
My wife has prepared a lovely lunch: sandwich, yogurt, fruit of some kind, and ice water. We express our thanks to God and begin eating. “Is that a wasp?” I look and sure enough it is a wasp, although it is roughly half a mile away. “I hate wasps,” she says. I don’t like them either, but won’t admit it.
The wind suddenly whips up and our napkins go flying across the patio, landing in one of the potted plants. But the petunias are blooming and they create a beautiful impression on the napkins and our lips. There are many little things to be thankful for.
We take off the yogurt lids and the lone fly buzzing around my wife reports its finding to several associate bomber-flies in the area. Soon we are waving our arms around and telling the flies that they are a terrible nuisance. It doesn’t seem to bother them at all.
When it it seasonal, we have a hummingbird feeder in our back patio area. Sometimes humming birds do feed from it but most often it is the honey bees. My wife doesn’t like honey bees and may be allergic to their stings. She could end up in Providence Hospital ER if they get too close. Honey bees do not have to sting to cause havoc—if a mean drone looks you straight in the eye, you could break out in hives.
We don’t spend long on the patio when the hummingbirds are in season—we watch for them through our door windows. Sometimes, to break the monotony, we watch the birds out of our front windows. There are a couple of Downy woodpeckers who eat their suet from our horizontal feeder and there are cardinals and other kinds of birds that use the other feeder. My wife keeps a record of the kinds of birds she sees and identifies them easily. I’m not very good at it but she has taught me to tell the difference between a blue jay and a cardinal.
I wish we had a front porch so we could sit out there and eat our breakfast or lunch and watch the birds—and the neighbors. Because of the bright Texas sun most mornings we have to keep the blinds half closed, so we miss a lot of what goes on in the ‘hood.
I think it is much more exciting on the back patio. I’m going out there right now and sit a bit in the Texas sun—the flies and mosquitoes don’t bother me.