Monday, November 12, 2012

The Front Porch

*When the new part was added to the house in 1969, the front porch also had to go. What had been under the porch became part of the front yard. On the porch itself, we didn't have a lot of things. Coming out the front door, there was the window to the living room on the right and the window to the bedroom on the left. The television antenna was on the end nearest the driveway, and just beside the antenna there was a cedar tree that had been put there as a Christmas tree and then continued to grow. The steps were directly in front of the door, and I remember always carefully watching overhead for wasps. There were sometimes dirt daubers building nests, but we didn't worry so much about them, because they aren't as aggressive as the red wasps who built their paper nests in the corners. At the other end of the porch was a beautiful deep pink camellia, which is still there on the corner and is covered with blossoms every year. It's a lot bigger now, too. Of course, after more than 35 years, that's not surprising.

And just next to the bedroom window was the porch swing. Like so many things around the place, my dad made it. We spent countless hours in that swing, alone, together, resting, you name it. While my oldest sister was in the house helping my mother prepare meals, my second sister used to sit in the middle of the swing with me on one side and my youngest brother on the other and sing to us. The song that always comes to mind when I think of the swing is "Dark Moon." And what a wonderful place to be during a summer rainstorm! We went inside (and often under a quilt) if there were thunder and lightning, but if it was just rain, we sat there swinging and watching the rain. It was also a great place for telling ghost stories after dark, if the mosquitoes weren't too bad. Bullet, our German shepherd, was usually there, nudging us for a few caresses.

We got Bullet when I was a very little girl, and he was more trustworthy than most humans when it came to protecting me. My dad used to tell people that if they could take me without hurting the dog, they could have me. Bullet walked me down the lane to meet the school bus every morning, and he was there waiting for me every afternoon when the bus dropped me off. If I went to a neighbor's house, he went with me and waited politely and patiently outside until I came back out. Often on Sundays, one of us kids would go home with a cousin, and Bullet would circle the car repeatedly trying to find the missing person. He didn't rest easy until that child was home again.  He could appear out of nowhere if someone came into the yard. They were all right as long as they stayed in front, but he *would not* allow anyone to walk around the corner of the house unless we told him it was all right. And even then he stayed between the child (usually me) and the stranger.

Often in addition to Bullet, Sam the cat was on the porch, too. After much pleading from me and a little persuasion from my Dad's cousin (who needed to get rid of some kittens), we brought Sam home when I was five. Bullet promptly chased him up a tree for the first and only time. We explained to him that Sam was now part of the family and he'd have to get used to it. Before long, the two were playing together. Fairly often when we children were playing on the porch, Bullet would lie down to sleep, Sam would crawl up on his back, and the two would take a nap together. If only I'd had my digital camera then! And if only I had a front porch with a swing now. Those were the days!

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