By Jacob Hatcher
A few weeks ago my wife was out with friends and the kids were asleep when I heard the rain start pouring down outside. Without really thinking about it, I did something I haven’t done in a long time. I turned off Netflix, grabbed a book, and went to listen to the rain.
The porch used to be the social hub of the family. Once upon a time, the porch functioned as a living room in decent weather. Before climate controlled 2000 square foot homes, the porch was the only place a family could gather comfortably for any length of time. It’s where stories were swapped and life lessons were learned. It’s where sons were greeted upon returning from war and goodbye hugs were given to beloved grandchildren.
I have a picture of my Papa and his brothers sitting on the porch, each with half of a watermelon in hand, eating it like a dog gnawing on a bone. Can you imagine what my children would do if I suggested they eat watermelon in such a manner? It’s not their fault though; you can only eat watermelon that way when you’re sitting on a porch, and porches are as rare as a hand cranked ice cream machine these days.
Of course, who needs a hand cranked ice cream machine if you don’t have a porch to crank it on?
In another picture, my Nana and Papa are sitting on that same porch. She’s in a lawn chair and he’s leaning against a column. They’re young, smiling ear to ear, probably from a story just told by one of his brothers. It takes me back to the porch at their house, her knitting something on the swing and him telling us wild man stories. There’s fireflies in the yard, Ray Charles on the kitchen radio, and popcorn on the stove.
Most of the folks in those pictures are gone, and the porches belong to someone else now, but sometimes when the weather’s just right, I can let the wind carry my imagination back there.
Anyway, I think the popcorn’s about to burn.