The Front Porch: Not a Place, But a State of Mind

If our old house could talk, I’m sure it would have lots to say, especially the front porch.  Our home has been in my family for 105 years.  Many folks, including great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, (great) aunts and uncles, cousins, and friends have passed the time of day in this simple but sacred space:  talking and visiting, taking a rest after working in the fields or garden, enjoying a bit of cool air after a thunderstorm on a hot, sultry day, or just sitting—shelling peas into a colander.

As a child, I remember walking to Grandma’s house every morning in the summertime and finding her sweeping the front porch—something I do every morning now…..and always think of her.  I have so many wonderful childhood memories of whiling away a Sunday afternoon practicing handstands and cartwheels in the front yard while family gathered and visited on the porch.  Those Sundays were also comprised of sitting on the porch steps, listening to the grown-ups talking as Granddaddy Rieley rocked in the old, white (now black) rocking chair that Great-Granddaddy Rieley built.  And, I especially remember looking forward to making homemade peach ice cream and Uncle Francis letting me turn the hand crank of the ice cream maker.  But, I think my favorite memory of all is just sitting quietly, on any random summer evening with Grandma and Granddaddy, listening to the whip-poor-wills and crickets filling the night air with music.

 

 

These beloved childhood memories and the thought of music created by a “Cricket Band” reminded me of a children’s book my kindergarten students enjoyed having read to them at the end of their speech-language therapy sessions.  It’s called Nicholas Cricket, and it’s written by Joyce Maxner.  Ms. Maxner has degrees from Harvard University and Villanova University.  As a poet, she has published in Tracks, Temple University’s literary magazine.  I absolutely love her use of whimsical language as well as the rhythm and tempo of her writing.  I also treasure how her words transport me, once again, into an 8-year-old girl porch sittin’ with her grandma and granddaddy, soaking up the simplicity and beauty of a summer evening in the country….entertained only by a concert of crickets.

 

 

Nicholas Cricket

Written by Joyce Maxner

 

Nicholas Cricket plays every night in the Bug-a-Wug Cricket Band.

Moonlight glows and summer wind blows,

rabbits come dancing on tip-tippy toes.

The music is just so grand!

 

Nicholas Cricket plays with all his might in the Bug-a-Wug Cricket Band.

 

Little Lake shines and Little Stream winds,

peep-peep-peepers come dancing through the vines.

The music is just so grand!

 

Nicholas Cricket is a banjo picker

in the Bug-a-Wug Cricket Band.

 

Crickets play fiddles and guitars with middles

curvy and round as a rantum riddle

and ducks come dancing

ducky-hey-ducky-diddle.

The music is just so grand!

 

In the blue blue night

when the moon is bright

underneath the leaves of summer,

if we’re quiet and quick

we can find Cricket Nick

and the washboard strummers

and slap-a-spoon drummers

and crick-crick-crickety kazoo hummers.

 

We can dance all night

’til the rosy dawn comes.

The music is just so grand!

 

Ladybugs strut and toads sashay,

moths and mantises wing their way,

while Nick and the crickets

just

play

and

play.

The music is just so grand!

 

Then all the Bug-a-Wugs grow sleepy and still

and go back with the moonlight under the hill.

Back to the trees the peepers pop,

back to the hollow the rabbits hop,

back to the willows the weary ducks waddle

and back to our beds our tired legs toddle

to dream as Little Stream

winds

its way

into tomorrow.

 

The music was just so grand!

The music was just so grand!

The music was

just

so

grand!

29 Comments »

  1. what a nice post. I miss summer evenings back home listening to the locusts sing and then the lightning bugs starting to come out and then the crickets chirping away.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I love the musical quality of this book! The other books you mention are wonderful, too. I own a collection of children’s books that I regularly use during therapy sessions. I always incorporate children’s literature into articulation or language therapy. And, the books you mentioned are ones that I have read many times to my students. I’ve actually used “Is Your Mana a Llama” to address the /r/ sound in therapy. 🙂

        Like

  2. So sweet!
    It is a grand porch 🙂 Do you really sweep so often? Cause I gotta tell ya, I’m impressed! lol Mine’s much smaller and I don’t do it every week! lol Maybe I need to sweep more love into it. Maybe mine isn’t special enough YET 😉
    I must agree, porch time is a state of mind. When it’s a really good day, the porch is the place to be. Time’s slower on the porch. Tonight was 69 and breezy, and we were out there gazin.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much, Joey. You’re funny! I’m sure your porch is special. 😉 I do sweep a lot, especially in spring when the pollen is so high and the slate blue porch floor starts looking a bit yellow. We’re on a farm, and there’s just always something blowin’ up on the porch: grass, bugs, flower petals, dust….and if I don’t sweep fairly regularly, it gets tracked into the house. 🙂

      Sounds like you had perfect weather for an evening of porch sittin and star gazin. Doesn’t get much better! I’m looking forward to a summer filled with lots of porch time. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Homes are wrought of memories and yours has the pleasure of 105 years of your family. Nicholas Cricket is such a lovely poem … thank you for sharing it – I would never have known. And a porch? This is a very European plea …. I absolutely without question NEED my forever home to have a proper porch – a Veranda actually … it’s a Waltons thing … little English girl tunes in every week and inhales that verandah porch thing. If we end up your side of the pond, it’s easy. If we end up this side we build which is almost as easy but I need it to look authentically old. You can if you will, I remind myself. Thank you for this delightful post!

    Liked by 1 person

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