Sunday, May 15, 2011

Steady rain and a porch rocker spell



Whispers from the past called me today.

I listened.

My grandparents were farmers and way back in the day my parents would pack up every Friday afternoon and drive up to spend the weekend there... most every weekend.

On the way there... my father would sing. A deep baritone. Same songs. Every time. I still remember them all.

As we'd ride... we'd see who could spy the water tower first in town. A windy, slurving ride... that seemed to open up magically onto a giant flat.

And to the farm.

The farm was a giant playground to me. Sheds. Woods. A large hill out back with a winding path up to a sugar house. Open fields across the road with a tractor road... two strips of dirt that led on toward a stream... and a bridge to the hill beyond.

There was always a strange array of tools about. Bizarre looking hand tools... wrenches, hammers, shovels, forks, rakes, sickles, chains... Tractors... trailers... wagons... big and small... giant.

There were piles of sawdust and hay... for leaping.

Haylofts.

Animals.

I'd roam with cows. Herd them about. Roam the hillside with them. I'd walk... and they'd follow. I'd run with barn cats... wiry fast, nimble... easily spooked. I'd hang strings about the hallway for them, tie a nut, bolt, or washer on each hanging piece and swing them... and watch 15 or 20 cats bound about.... or sit like they were watching a tennis match... something I think of today every time I see people watching tennis. I had adventures... conjuring mythical monsters, saving the world... protecting the creatures in my care.

My cousins were about often. And it was always fun. Jackie was closest to me in age and the one I spent the most time with. Other neighbors were around my age too. And we played. Badminton. Frisbee. Endless bike rides. We'd wrestle. Race. Hide and seek. Adventure. And we'd sit on the porch and recover.

My parents often worked a very large garden at the farm which sat on a flat up a slight knoll from the farm house. At the top of the knoll betwween the house and garden sat a large white propane tank, a big beast I used to think looked much like a monstrous cow... an excellent garden guardian. I'd serenade my parents... the tank made an excellent drum... an acoustic marvel of highs and lows, clicks and clacks for some drumsticks I fashioned out of some tree branches. After a while my father would encourage me to take a break from drumming and he'd time me while I ran laps around the garden ; )

We had bondfires... and yes, far away from the propane tank. I can still taste popcorn from an old, long handled popcorn popper... that's still hanging in my garage today.

For some reason... this all came back to me today. And the rocking chair on my porch own porch called me.

To sit. And to slow down.

And my mind started wandering.

The farm was a grand setting. A rural farm. The main road stretched from the left horizon off to the right, a long straightaway that always prompted folks to open up the throttle on their cars. The farm connected to the horizon -like straightaway by driveway which was lined with some tall swaying pines. The driveway was lathered in rough gravel... and it had a sound to it. It would announce that someone was coming... if the long stretch of road didn't.

It was a cast of characters that visited. I'd listen to them all tell their stories, catch up on business, plan out the hay season, share a beer... or two... or three, or pile in for some dinner. People spent a lot of time visiting. I can still see their faces, the lot of them. It was a community hang out. Always someone visiting.

The porch on the house off the driveway acted much like an amphitheater to it all. Especially to the sounds of the wind... and the giant swaying pines that lined the driveway. It was always breezy there... or so I remember. An old farmhouse, a large barn... sheds... tractors... cows... and the smells. Smells from the kitchen always swirled around.... roasts, biscuits, bread, cookies. They swirled in with... flowering crab and pine trees, flowers, cut grass, hay, cows...

A haven to a cast of characters... all of us.

The porch back then had a few rocking chairs on it. Deep ones, a few with a graceful lean backward. The kind that catch you. I used to rock back then... to find shade, have something cool to drink... to prepare for the next adventure. Over time... it became more of a habit. I'd let my mind wander. In the shade. In the breeze. I'd dream. It was a habit I learned from my Grandmother as I think of it. Ihave visions of her... sitting... and soaking it in... and slowing down.

It can be a struggle to slow down your mind these days. We move from one thing to another. A relentless sort of pace. Another bill to pay, another meeting, another project. Prepare for tomorrow. Washing. Cleaning. Shopping.

Today though... was different.

It's raining today... all day, a steady rain. I've always loved sitting under a porch, in a rocking chair, especially when it rains. And slow down my mind... ever since I was a kid.

Birds.

Greens.

Smells.

And I breathe deep.

And I slowly rock to and fro.

We have a lot of flowers about. Flowering crab trees.

My mind wanders from place to place.

Baseball. Getting ready for playoffs. Lots to tune up.

Bills.

A great article to read. Or two. Or three.

End of the school year rush. Usually the time of year when folks want to schedule meetings urgently before the end of the year. Some get frantic. Some stressed. Lots of emotion. Then come the cool parts of shoring up the years work, the chats with folks on the cusp of graduation from high school, and with those who are returning from college to check in. Catching up with people, hearing how their time here helped them... is endlessly rejuvenating to me and I'm grateful for the stories they share.

Birds flying here and there.

Steady rain.

And all the sounds the rain brings. An acoustic, soothing marvel.

My grandparents house... I can picture it vividly. White with green shutters. The clothes line. When the wind would rise up... the trees would sway, almost like strings being played...

The sheets always had a fresh smell to them... from being hung out...

I'd sit on the porch...

and I'd rock.

and I'd listen.

and my mind wander where it needed to go.

And I'd dream.

And I'd slow down.

And watch it rain.

And I'd go traveling... right there in that rocking chair.

Just like I did today.



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad... on the porch

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