Friday, December 14, 2007

Rocking Chairs and Southern Porches

We dropped by the big box building supplies store last week to pick up provisions for some work at Dad’s house. On the way out we paused a moment to examine some rocking chairs fastened firmly to the building with a steel cable. I sat a moment and rocked in the chair while we debated their worth for our new front porch. Right now we have our porch furniture we purchased in North Carolina before moving to Ohio. As good as those chairs are, they don’t match up to a good old fashioned rocking chair on a Southern porch.

Granddaddy Daily’s porch had an assortment of rocking chairs and swings. The porch on the Southern country home was as long as the house itself. After all, the porch was the primary gathering point after the evening meal and before bedtime. At the end of the porch was a long swing suspended by chains. The grandchildren, including me, seemed to take pride in finding how high we could take the swing up in the air. But little did I know it was the rocking chairs that would mean more to me in later years. Some of those chairs were handed down through generations and carry much sentimental value today.

Granddaddy Smith’s porch was a little different, but the furniture was just as exciting for grandchildren. Granddaddy Smith had a metal glider that moved as you sat in the summer breeze watching the vehicles pass on the road across the cotton patch. In the middle of the front yard was a tree with many limbs, perfect for climbing. As young children we crawled all over that tree. In late fall, with the trees bare of leaves, you could look across Mr. Harris’s pasture from the porch and see the mighty Tennessee River.

Mom and Dad have extended their porch since I was a child. Dad went a step further and placed a swing at both ends of the porch. The chairs provide cool comfort in the hot summers and a nice place to watch the kids play in the yard. But they haven’t placed the rocking chairs on the porch. My children will build their own special memories of “Granddaddy’s porch.”

We paused a moment as I sat in the chair at the mega store. It rocked on rather smooth rockers, but the slats of the seat and back just didn’t have the same homemade feel of those at Granddaddy Daily’s house. Maybe a cushion would help. I really want to add some memory to my porch. I didn’t see a metal glider for sale anywhere and, now that I think about it, I don’t know when I’ve seen one since Granddaddy Smith’s glider sat on his porch.

A purchase was not on my agenda for today. Maybe the North Carolina green metal framed chairs on flexible steel would make a satisfactory memory for my children and grandchildren. It isn’t a good time to make such a selfish purchase so near Christmas. I must look further for the perfect match to my porch. I tried to conjure every excuse I could muster. Truth be told, the memory has become so perfected in my mind I am not sure the chairs I remember can be replicated.

Tomorrow morning I will wander out to the front porch and lace my shoes as I watch the boys catch the bus for school. The sun will be start to blaze over the tree tops and gleam in my face as the neighborhood animals will be greeting the morning. Hopefully these events will bring the same satisfaction and comfort to my family as those porch breezes of rural Alabama brought me years ago.