Danny Heitman: At Random: Life as seen from an armchair

For my very sore leg, the orders from the doctor’s office seemed clear enough: Rest all weekend. Do as little as possible.

That sounded like a dream prescription to me. But as I quickly discovered, being still is harder when you’re doing it because you have to, not because you want to.

While recovering last Saturday, my biggest activity involved hobbling to the edge of the driveway to get the morning paper. At the base of the drive, a dozen members of a jogging club whizzed past me on their way down the street — a lively armada of arms and legs moving without effort. Their vitality seemed a vivid rebuke to a man whose mission to collect a newspaper looked like The Longest Mile.

I sat in an armchair all morning with books and papers and laptop, my left leg propped on piles of pillows, my foot arched high above me, like the prow of a ship that had, sadly, been detained in port. I counted five pillows around me, then realized that one of them was, in fact, our old terrier, who had quietly nosed his way into the chair while I was absorbed in news. He was dozing deeply, which reminded me that dogs have an easier time staying still than we do. They don’t worry about foreign policy, the economy or whether Miley Cyrus has gone too far.

I had other worries on my mind. From my invalid’s perch near the living room window, I could see that our wisteria vines needed major trimming. Emboldened by my absence from the yard, they continued to climb toward the house, the tip of one vine tapping at the window pane as insistently as Poe’s raven.

Earlier this month, a length of wisteria angled through the tiniest of cracks in our window frame, snaking its way through the shutters and nudging its tendril into the household. I hadn’t noticed it, but our daughter spotted the vine hovering over my chair as I had coffee one morning, and she gasped with alarm, unsettled that something so wild had invaded the dull domestic interior of our breakfast hour.

I’ve felt a similar shudder in those rare times when a flash of grey has darkened the corner of my eye as I’ve walked through a kitchen — eerie evidence that a mouse has somehow worked itself into a house in search of a winter berth. The thought of wild things claiming a place within our rooms shakes our notion — perhaps an illusion all along — that we’re at a cozy remove from the Great Outdoors.

We need vigilance in south Louisiana to keep the outside out. In summer, especially, nature drums it fingers across roofs and windows and doors, eager and hungry, as if testing a melon for ripeness.

All the more reason, I guess, that I should be outside in this first blush of autumn — hacking at vines, sawing away brush, caulking the windows, giving Mother Nature a run for her money. There is much to do, as soon as the doctor clears me to do it.