The only thing better than playing with a full deck is playing on one

Roger Davis • Jun 10, 2013 at 11:53 PM

You’ve seen those bumper stickers that say “I’d rather be” doing something else. You know the type: I’d rather be hang gliding or shopping or driving my Ferrari or solving math problems or bass fishing or relaxing on the beach or whatever. If bumper sticker declarations can be taken seriously, then it appears that folks would rather be doing all sorts of things.

Naturally, I, your humble columnist, am no exception. Instead of sitting in front of a desk and a glowing computer monitor just now, with a dozing year-old beagle at my feet, I would rather be taking in the weather and the sounds and the sensations of the outdoors on the covered deck. In fact, I would rather be doing that than most things — at least more than most things here at the ranch. If I had a bumper sticker, it would say, “I’d rather be on the deck.”

For three seasons (and the warmer parts of the fourth one), that’s where I practically live when I’m at home. It’s where I prefer to read, eat, chill and spend quality time with the dogs.

If it weren’t for my wife’s disapproval and the local mosquitoes’ appetites, I’d probably sleep out there too.

The Queen isn’t as weather- and temperature-resistant as I am, so she isn’t outside nearly as much. Nevertheless, having breakfast on the deck has become one of our routines over the years, which is one reason she looks forward to the annual arrival of spring. Warm weather means a blessed escape from the tyranny of the kitchen table and from the indoors in general.

Even our two dogs, Liza and Lulu, love being on the deck. Liza the terrier, who has become the world’s laziest dog, will hang out there for long periods, provided it isn’t too hot and I stay with her.

Otherwise, she’s happy to be comatose on the recliner.

Lulu the beagle is more devoted to the outdoors. At first light, she’s awake and peering out the living room windows, surveying the trees and grounds for squirrels. After a series of acrobatics and high-pitched squeals, she lets me know that the varmints are awake and it’s time to take up her position on the deck. There she commands the high ground and scans the perimeter with the intensity of a peregrine falcon atop a cliff.

Occasionally Lulu will spot one of the bushy tailed rodents and charge furiously down the steps. She bounds across the yard like an armored cavalry unit and opens up with her distinctive, deep bark. Liza helps by barking, but is usually too lazy to run down to the yard.

Once the excitement dies down, Lulu trots back up the steps and prepares for another assault while Liza jumps up beside me on the swing and lets me know she wants a belly rub.

See what I mean by quality time? We couldn’t have this much fun in the living room, and I would be restless and bored if I had to remain indoors.

No doubt there are people who actually enjoy staying inside and watching TV day in and day out, although I can’t for the life of me understand why.

Right now it’s lunchtime here at the ranch, and I’m about to finish typing. We’re going back outside.

Roger Davis is a Kingsport Times-News columnist. E-mail him at rdavis@timesnews.net.

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