Friday, April 19, 2024
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Reflections by Rev. John Farmer

by John Howard Farmer

A Summer Porch

There’s a fine morning activity which the bride and I observe almost every day, rain or shine.

First one up draws two cups of steaming coffee and takes it to the front porch. We greet one another with a kiss, then commune with each other, and the squirrels off in the sweet gum trees around the pond. Robins, cardinals, sparrows and numerous finches flit here and yon. The aggravation of the cars passing by is muffled by the cacophony of all the various winged creatures calling to and for their mates.

For several weeks earlier this year, we were treated to the joy of a nesting Kildee and her hubby. That little bird laid her eggs right in our gravel driveway and plopped upon the quartet until they were hatched. I was worried that I, or someone else, might crush her eggs, so I hastily placed three bricks around the nest so that if someone did approach the area, the eggs would still be safe.

For the whole time that momma Kildee sat upon the eggs, both mom and dad entertained us. Feigning injury, they would dart and dash about as we approached, trying to lead us away from their family to-be. Finally she would sit her ground and squawk loudly as our vehicles passed. What a ferocious countenance she maintained.

Then one morning, early, I noticed that no one was sitting in the nest. I paused to peer into the brick birdhouse and saw four little tufts of feathers. I rushed to tell Hazel we had babies in the drive. By lunchtime that day, those little birds were hobbling around their nest and by the next afternoon, the whole family had flown away.

This week, the squirrels, harvesting leafy branches to build themselves a nursery, amused us. The two amorous four-legged beings were all over the three trees selecting just the right bunch of leaves to weave into a home. I am going to have to peer high up in the trees to watch as their family increases.

Our pond, populated mostly by turtles, is home to many creatures. On those first warm days, the water was all a-ripple with tadpoles wiggling about. Oh, yeah, we have a snake, a water snake. I found that he doesn’t like me, for a stomp or two in the area, and he heads back into the overgrowth to pout, having been sent from the warm shallows. I wonder if he knows how much I don’t like him? Anyway, he was here before me, so I just let him know when it is time to move along, not wanting to stumble any closer than necessary to him unawares.

We have a rose patch beside the front porch, with a potted hibiscus and a jug of impatiens over in the porch corner. By the time Miss Hazel retreats to refill the coffee cups, we are being buzzed by hummingbirds. Those flitting little rascals will dive in and out of the porch, always startled by us. Occasionally they will fly into our side of the railing and suspend themselves as if trying to see if we might be sweet enough for a sip: Hazel maybe, but not me… The slightest movement on our part and they exit.

Needless to say, we hate to drag off the porch for job and country. We never do so without sharing how much we appreciate God’s morning entertainment and beauty.

Throughout these muggy days, I will often drive by a home, with a wide porch or trailer with a large shade tree in the yard. Multi-generations are gathered in the shade. There they sit, chatting away, shooing the flies and fanning the sweat away. Each time that I see such, I lift a little prayer for them. How nice it is when families can gather—even in oppressive heat—to chat and share memories.

You and I know what they’re talking about, eh? Is it or is it not the hottest summer ever? Everyone is an expert; everyone has an opinion.

I know that whenever families are so gathered, a lot of loving goes on. Discipline is offered for invading indiscretions. Threats of paddlings are tossed about. But the heat wins, and, the shade beckons. There’ll be time enough for correcting the kids later. Many times, the gatherings will be presided over by a grandparent, most always enthroned in a rocking chair. Jugs of cool water, lemonade and Kool-Aid rescue them from dehydration. This I know: those families will be closer into their mutual futures than those ensconced in recliners, lying on a sofa, sprawled across the carpet watching TV.

Turn off the TV, gather up the kids, the grandkids, go sit on the porch, take a drive, walk the lane and weave your own quilt of family memories.

If you don’t have a block of church memories to share from your quilt, make a promise to God and the family that on the next Lord’s Day, you and them will be on a pew holy (or on the lawn, as are we) listening to a divine messenger about the inescapable mercies of God. That’s a good thing to do if you really want to stay away from a big heat, an ever-burning fire.

Got the message?

The Bible offers shade from eternal heat. The church trains us how to live in community and from whom salvation comes.

Rappahannock Record Staff
Rappahannock Record Staff
From the Rappahannock Record news team

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