The Front Porch Swing
Yesterday afternoon, while the kids crashed out on various beds after church, Clay and I retreated to the haven of the front porch swing. Wrapped snugly in warm blankets to protect us from the frigidity of our May Day weather, we watched the rain splash down on the verdant green landscape and recharged our batteries. The lighting was breathtaking as a few of the clouds lifted and the whole countryside was basked in a golden twilight. Cattle bawled faintly from across the fields and our bluebird pair flitted in and out of their tree cavity – the tree that we were going to cut down this spring. This is what Sunday afternoons are all about: sitting still and noticing the beautiful world around us, being diligent in rest, allowing ourselves to be rejuvenated for the new week.
Mom once asked me to write about how I manage to get everything done – from caring for the kids, to house cleaning, to house and craft projects, to working with the horses. Obviously this isn't quite accurate since, for example, writing a contribution for the Deyly News has been on my to-do list for over two months. I like to play the “I-just-had-a-baby” card as long as possible. The simple truth is that I am far from getting everything done, ever. You don't want to check under the booster chair at the kitchen table because the crumbs and dried on food might be a bit revolting. You'll have to look past the grubby fingerprints on all the windows and mirrors. Our mud room is in a perpetual state of chaos as we cycle from project to project and use it as our store-all-room and workspace. The horses are still all fat and Clay cooks almost as much as I do – when we're not having frozen pizza or tuna fish and crackers.
I usually end the day feeling productive, until I look ahead and remember everything that didn't get done that day. It is the brief windows, like those moments yesterday afternoon, that keep me sane and energized enough to keep on. Like a breath out, exhaling completely in preparation for the next breath in. And one of my favorite spots for this activity is on our front porch swing. If we sit in the back yard we tend to start drifting around weeding, collecting eggs, maybe planting a couple trees... There isn't much to do from the oasis of the front porch (particularly when the kids are asleep). It is our favorite venue for watching the firefly show on summer evenings, or late night thunderstorms. It gave me the peace I needed while waiting for Amelia's arrival, allowing me to watch the snow melt away with the warm spring breezes and realize that it was the perfect day to welcome in a new life. When Clay proposed to me by the creek across the road, and stated that he wanted to be old with me on our front porch swing, neither of us realized that this would be the very porch swing that we will (hopefully) be rocking away on.
God brought me to this point – loving my life and family on this Ozark farm – and I suppose this means that He can bring me through the daily and weekly grind and work of changing diapers, scrubbing pans, peeling paneling off the living room wall, and feeding the chickens. And now I can appreciate these poems, written by fellow Ozarkian, Mary Elizabeth Mahnkey:
A Cabin in the Ozarks (or rock house...)
A cabin in the Ozarks
Is the happiest place I know
When the frogs begin their song
And March winds start to blow.
When the dogwood trees are shining
On the hills in robes of white,
Then I hunt my fishing tackle
For 'tis now the bluegills bite.
A cabin in the Ozarks
In the summer's dreamy haze
Is where I love to linger,
Loitering through the quiet days.
Now the cornfields are enticing
All the squirrels for miles around,
And I take my old gun with me
Where the frisky folks are found.
When the autumn winds are shifting
And the hills in glory glow,
And the wild ducks start their drifting
And the foxhounds chanting go.
Wild grapes, nuts, pawpaws, persimmons
Hang in Nature's festal hall.
O, a cabin in the Ozarks
Is the finest in the fall.
This cabin in the Ozarks
Has a fireplace deep and wide,
A pot a-stewing on the hearth
And my old dog at my side.
I can see a big wild turkey
In a white oak on the hill
Where the frosty ridge is sparkling
In the moonlight, cold and still.
And I think I'll stop my wanderings
For this place that I have found,
In the blue-hazed Ozark mountains
Is just right, the whole year 'round.