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Why living vicariously through nature is proving to be more enjoyable than the real thing

Pam Stone
Pam Stone

I don’t like to think of myself as one of those people who, in order to fill some soulless void within themselves, purchases new things as a distraction from what they consider to be the emptiness in their life.



I mean, I wouldn’t mind trying it, I just can’t afford it. But for those who pick up a 2019 Porsche or Donna Karan’s entire fall collection rather than figure out why they keep choosing the wrong relationship, go for it, baby. Aunty Pam won’t begrudge you a bit. A kind, steady man for sure is nice to come home to, although 567 lbs of torque in the Panamera Turbo is a hefty consolation in the meantime.



My own distractions are usually related to hearth and home and this is why I need to stop reading magazines that focus on the virtue of house and home. When the back deck, which connects to our upstairs loft bedroom was rapidly disintegrating, I could barely stand looking out the sliding glass doors. In fact, I couldn’t stand having sliding glass doors, so I couldn’t stand even looking in their general direction. After what felt to be years (because it was indeed years) Paul engaged a carpenter friend and over a weekend, they ripped up the old deck boards, screwed down new ones and, oh, my heart, after the railing was erected around its perimeter, Paul built in a lovely seat overlooking the woods with two large boxed planters on either side. My brother, who imports such things, sold me a magnificent pair of mahogany french doors that we had installed and I rhapsodized upon seeing it finally finished, the effect feeling exactly like a tree house as it was a good 20 feet off the ground and overlooked the dense hardwood forest behind us.



“It’s like having an extra room!” I gasped, throwing the doors open wide. “Look at how the flow of the bedroom expands, running all the way to the end of the deck. It’s fantastic! I shall have my morning coffee out here and in the fall, I’ll sit out here with a good book as the leaves turn and…”



That euphoria lasted a couple of weeks. The planters, filled immediately with daffodil bulbs and miniature roses begin to wither with negligence as mornings were deemed “too hot” or “too wet” or “too cold.” The primary purpose of the deck these days is for me to stalk outside, cast an irritated eye over the back half of our property and yell at our incessantly barking dogs to “Come in this instant!! Do you hear me? COME!!”



Recently my heart’s desire has been throbbing around the idea of having a picnic table directly in front of the house, in a shady area beneath two Carolina maples, in an area deeply mulched and planted with gardenias, a couple of Japanese maples and hydrangeas.



“If we had a picnic table right there,” I reasoned to Paul, “we could eat outside every evening, practically. Even when it’s hot, it’s so pleasant under the trees.”



“So not only am I doing all the cooking,” Paul replied. “I’m now also expected to carry it further.”



Exasperated, I pulled him by the arm to the area and pointed. “Look,” I began. “The view is breathtaking: the flower beds in full bloom and beyond that, nothing but rolling green fields and trees. Now, c’mon,” I pushed, moving in for the kill, “Just think of sitting with your evening martini and a bowl of olives, or pistachios, and reveling in the glory of nature.”



As a renaissance man, he was obliged to follow my reverie and taking the truck, drove to Home Depot and came back with the floor model that needed only to be stained. Now a deep amber color, it has been utterly divine to enjoy one’s coffee as the sun comes up and the day’s work begins. And just as delightful to have a chilled glass of something as the sun goes down. Sometimes I sit here and pray. Sometimes I close my eyes and absorb the ever-present birdsong. Sometimes I write my column, bathed in twilight and surrounded by nature’s bounty. Heaven, truly.



And then I had to pick a gnat out of my wine.



And then the dogs leapt up, uninvited, and sent my dish of pistachios flying.



And then a bird crapped on my keyboard.



I resolve not to let any of the above remove my rose-tinted glasses from the gratification of this table. I refuse to become “that person” who, like a spoiled child, has lost all interest with her latest shiny object. Taking meals, or even coffee, in the outside air is one of life’s purest pleasures and this will never leave me.



But, oh, if only we had an authentic, Victoria garden gate at end of the gravel path that leads to it . . .

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