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Back and forth in silent conversation

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Sometimes the best conversations happen without a word being said. I'm sitting on the porch swing with my grown son. We're taking turns bumping our feet against the railing to keep the motion going. Back and forth, back and forth, we look through the screen to the old cedar tree and the yard next door. It's springtime in Florida, and it's easy to blend with the outside world of green. Sometimes we talk, but mostly we look and swing and watch for a raucous bluebird, a chattering squirrel, or a darting hummingbird.

Now in another scene a few years ago - at the same house, but during a different season -I'm sitting in an old wicker rocker by the fireplace. It's cold enough for a fire, and Dad has built a good one, except for one log that needs turning just a little. I mentally adjust it, not wanting to mess with his territory. He has made a lot of fires and knows just how to arrange crunched-up newspaper, pine splinters, and a big oak log so they will fuse into flame.

We sit there, Mom, Dad, and I, rocking in rhythm, gazing at the darting flames as they sputter, grow, and finally take over, engulfing the log. We watch, sharing the silence. Then the fire calms to a steady crackling with flashes of sparks. I am deep into nothingness, losing myself, blending with them.

I like these silent "conversations," whatever the season. To have them, though, it helps to move - you need to choose where you sit carefully. Does the chair rock? Glide? Swivel? Or does it just sit there, heavy, like a boulder? Can you keep the porch swing going by kicking the railing?

With a seat that moves, you move, too - gracefully and rhythmically. My favorite chair today is nearly perfect: It rocks, glides, swivels, and reclines. All I need is a fireplace and some good company - or a porch with a green view.

We can let the world go by as we watch for hummingbirds from the front porch swing - or wait for winter and mentally shift those logs.


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