Local Lifestyle

Monday, Feb 24 2014 11:05 AM

HERB BENHAM: Any porch in a storm -- or nice weather

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Herb Benham

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By HERB BENHAM, Californian columnist hbenham@bakersfield.com

Recently I sat on the front porch. It had been longer than it should have been. Sitting on a front porch is good, rain or shine. There is nothing more reassuring than watching a rainstorm from the front porch and having everything get wet but you.

No storm this time, just lazy sunshine and there's nothing lazier than lounging on a front porch with two cats.

I was in a rocking chair. A green rocking chair is not critical but when you have a green rocking chair, and it's on your front porch, it's just the ticket and this is a ticket to ride.

If you want to rock way back, you can do that. If you are more peaceable and you prefer to rock as if you are steadying a baby on your lap, you can do that too. I'm partial to mixing it up, like the rocking version of the iTunes Shuffle.

Blueberry and Marshmallow took turns rubbing against my leg. Cats like front porches. They can draw a bead on the competition, and in most neighborhoods, the competition among cats on front porches is fierce.

A front porch ensures you'll never have to buy a cat. Cats appear and if a ledge, seat or chair is unoccupied, they'll homestead it and dare anybody else to make a counterclaim.

A neighbor gave us Blueberry because he had two cats already, one of which had adopted him.

Marshmallow is a big orange cat, like an overstuffed pillow with four legs, that started hanging out on the porch because it's a big porch and she saw an opening. Blueberry showed some give, and Marshmallow made her move and now has nailed down the No. 1 porch cat position.

I kept rocking and a blue Subaru pulled up. It was Sally bringing almond branches. She brings them every year. Put the branches in a vase and water and they bloom. We talked for a minute on the porch. I stayed in the rocking chair. I feel like I'm a better listener in the rocking chair. When I'm sitting down, I can listen all day, so talk all you want.

Sally left and Byron drove by. Byron is my neighbor who lives in our old house. He has four boys and likes dark beers, beers so thick and dark you can walk across them and reach the other shore safely.

Mexicali Alley, the red chicken who lives next door, bounced up the steps. This chicken was not afraid. She came up the stairs, stopped at Blueberry's dish and started pecking away at the cat food.

I'll be darned. I thought Blueberry was going through the cat food but she had help because Mexicali Alley was poaching her food.

Sit on the porch and you learn things. After eating all of Blueberry's food, Mexicali Alley started in on Marshmallow's bowl.

Cats won't mix it up with chickens. Or at least this chicken, whose red color suggests a temper. The cats sat there and watched the chicken eat their food. The chicken sensed an opening and broke through just like Marshmallow had.

They could have tag-teamed the chicken. Two against one. However, chickens are like how my dad used to describe his fellow farmers: "You can't get them to agree on lunch."

The chicken left and another neighbor drove by. Skateboarders whizzed through, heading for the skatepark. Neighbor Tom ambled out his front door and opened his mailbox. I waved. He waved.

Cats, a chicken, friends; if the rains came and 20th Street flooded, the front porch could become an ark and we could float away.

Half an hour later, I went inside. It was the best half an hour I'd spent in a long time. Nothing happened. Sometimes nothing is the something you've been looking for.

 

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