Porch Swings

I had a dream a few weeks ago, and it feels important enough to write down. My aunt Bertha (“Bert”) had a covered porch growing up. It was screened in off the back of her house in Waynesboro. She had a little brick Cape Cod on a corner lot, and since she bought the lot next door, her yard was the biggest on the block. These were the suburbs, but not when she bought. She used the extra lot as her garden, growing vegetables and herbs, and even had a grape arbor.

Two large, creaky swings faced each other on her back porch, and every inch of it was covered with canning supplies, burlap bags, all kinds of junk. But that porch was my favorite place in the whole world. We’d sit out there for hours talking. Bert’s canary, “Birdy” would tweet at us from the dining room, and we’d snack on those long, little peanut butter wafer cookies. I’d pick mine apart to make it last longer.

My aunt Bert was always old, the half-sister of my Muddy. Her gray bun was always neat, and she always wore an apron over her housedress. Her ankles were thick with age over her black shoes. My grandaddy would buy her groceries—she hadn’t left her house in 30 years since her husband died. Just never saw any need to. She never had any kids, so my sister and I were some of her only family.

I remember playing my violin for her, watching “Hee Haw” and “Lawrence Welk” on Saturday nights, and helping her snap beans on that back porch. She would have us sniff the mint in her garden, and I would marvel that it smelled just like toothpaste. Walking through her arbor was magical, especially in the fall when the grapes smelled like jam.

And the creaking of the swing was like a song to me. I loved my Aunt Bert, the quiet purpose of her life, the calmness I always felt in her house. Why do I write about this now? Because I had a dream that my family and the Harveys were all on that porch.

I read an article about Kathryn several weeks ago that mentioned her love for her own screened-in porch, maybe this is why I had the dream. Anyway, in the dream we were all there, my whole family, along with Bryan, Kathryn and their children. We swung on the swings, drinking beer or iced tea and the children played beneath our feet. It was twilight and the fireflies would soon come out. The crickets were having a jamboree and all was right with the world. I’d like to carry this dream with me, it was so peaceful, quietly happy, and healing. I’d like to think that wherever they are now, that this is what they’re doing. Preparing to chase fireflies and laughing, talking, and creaking that swing to beat the band with not a care in the world and no place whatsoever to go anytime soon.

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