The Porch

Nowadays, people are so jeezled up. If they took some chamomile tea and spent more time rocking on the porch in the evening listening to the liquid song of the hermit thrush, they might enjoy life more. Tasha Tudor, 1915–2008, children’s book illustrator and writer.

This early morning I sit on a porch like no other I’ve ever visited before. On both sides of me winter melt from the Sierra Nevada mountains gushes by towards Lake Kaweah.

On the left, the middle fork tributary weaves a rapid pathway over rocks and stones – both jagged and smooth from another time. First Americans waded into these waters and used the flat, table-like stones to ground their meal. When the water runs low, evidence of such a life before this is visible. The energy of those people is prominent here on the banks, in the gushing water, in the morning sun and brilliant midnight stars. Calm. Still.

On the right, racing down the mountain on a half pipe flume, first through the century old hydroelectric plant, the tail race waters burst free right at this porch just a few feet away. And while the visual is breathtaking, it’s the sound that is stunning and deafening. A steady rhythm, both invigorating and rejuvenating to the ear and the soul.

An array of porches dot across my life’s journey that gave refuge, solace, family time — a launchpad, a welcome back, a safe harbor. Giving to me what I needed at the time from each space.

My growing up porch — where books were read in summer. Diaries and journals written in to chronicle and make sense of the days. Simple decor- old wicker bench and chair. Where letters were delivered by the mailman walking right up to the door, directly into my hands with surprising, happy, sad and unexpected news. Life changing, plan changing. And a place where my replies were written with sorrow, cheers, gratitude, missing you, love you, apologies and acceptance.

The porch where I watched a grandmother knit sweaters while I sat on the little wooden chair across from her. On Sundays we gathered there, both in late morning and then again in late day. La familia – cousins playing. Our young relationships rooted on that porch- strong bonds that time and distance did not diminish, despite our paths only intersecting, it seems, for happy or sad gatherings.

The porch where I’d hear the interstate highway just beyond in Augusts of long, long ago. Still somehow a comforting sound those cars and trucks and motorcycles. Rosie’s palm digging into a box of corn starch to brush on my prickly heat. While this grandmother shared stories of her little girl life and made the world safe.

The porch where my babies waded in a plastic pool in a summer heat that stopped the day except for the splashing and squealing. And the next porch where we snapped photo montages from first days of school to Proms and graduations of those same babies.

Someday on a twilight porch, the spaces where I dug up courage or sat to just be, where I accepted things left undone or redrafted a change in the route — all of those porches will cross my mind and heart. I’ll give thanks to each space for giving me what I needed at the time. And I will hear the rushing mountain water towards Lake Kaweah. Towards peace. Calm. Still.

For Lois, Blessed that after years of orbiting and a friendship almost connecting, finally a crossroad at Kaweah Falls – and for this I am so grateful. ~ July 2019

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