I live on the edge of town, where green is the predominant color, at least in the spring and summer, instead of the dirty greys and browns of concrete and brick. On warm evenings I savor sitting on the porch that faces the rolling hills of the country. Full grown trees are everywhere, maples and pines mostly, obscuring nearly all of man's intrusions into my world. In the neighborhood there are three large homes, each about a half block away, and from time to time voices filter to my ear, adding a quality that connects me like a thread to humanity. Except for these voice sprinkles, the trees do a very pleasant job of filling my soul with nature. Wildlife lives in full display, even into the yards of homes downtown, so here where I live, from my comfortable chair on the porch, I've seen every sort of curious creature. Of course there are birds; small, rowdy, invisible ones, and, gliding on the thermals, an occasional bald eagle or turkey vulture can be seen. Deer visit frequently, and it seems that my presence is the only thing that can stop them from eating the shrubs and flowers that struggle to grow in the yard. Farm animals and runaway pets occasionally come to visit as well, looking just a little bit lost on their brief adventures.
Across the street, at the top of a rise, sits a lovely brick house, part of a large, park-like yard, full of swaying, stately trees. Children live there, and on these warmer nights it is their voices I hear chattering away on the breeze. Off to the right, at the end of a long, uphill driveway, looms a mansion perched at the top of a somber hill. I can only see the house in late fall or winter, when the leaves are gone from the trees, and even then it is distant and apart. No one I've talked to has ever ventured up to that house; the driveway is formidable and uninviting, and the house itself seems to be telling you that visitors are not welcome. At the right of the driveway to the mansion sits a small, cozy house, with well tended gardens. That's where a newly married couple lives. They're our closest neighbors, and easily our friendliest, frequently grilling on their deck, or puttering in their yard. They seem to enjoy nothing better than entertaining their friends on the weekends, each one ending up with a smile on their face and a beer in their hand. If I have to see human beings from my porch, that's the way I like to see them.
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