The Old Front Porch - Theo Edmonds
The Old Front Porch
by Theo ‘Alan’ Edmonds
We come like water,
we go like wind.
Among the people,
Among the pretend.
To love or to be loved,
Is to be entwined.
Both water and wind,
Can free and bind.
In a moment of beauty,
In a moment of time
Beauty becomes water,
wind becomes rhyme.
Life is a love song,
In soft need of a friend.
We come like water,
we go like wind.
- “Water and Wind” by Theo Edmonds
Granny cried the day I left home. Papaw sat their quiet, leaning on a prayer and a cheek of tobacco. As had happened on the love-worn valley ground for generations, we gathered on that old front porch. There was too much to speak, so no one said much of anything. The importance of it all rolled up the mountain just the same. “Take good care of yourself honey. Remember that Granny and Papaw will keep those prayers coming. I’ll make sure they have strong wings so they can find you down there in that big city.”
It always seemed to me that the old front porch must have been there forever. Irene’s journey to California began there. Granny left from those uneven, strong steps on her way to finding a lifetime partner. His name was Ted. Hazel came up these same steps as the first degreed professional known to our Scotch-Irish and Cherokee mutt clan. This place was a perfect concerto, played upon a perfect piano and placed upon a perfect stage. I often try to imaging the laughter and tears of thousands of conversations that happened here. Words carrying the history of our people into the heavens above and bringing meaning to children on their way to discovery. But no matter how far the we traveled, the most meaningful discovery would come when we would all gather tight again on this old front porch.
Our old front porch on Puncheon Creek was a launchpad for things not known before. These unknown things, would become things that we could not imagine ever having to be created. Family. Fortune. Falls from grace. Amazing grace redeemed. A glider rocker showing as many painted on colors through its chipped and banged up edges as the hills when Indian Summer takes hold of the valley and its treasure. We would go there to find peace. From the porch, we could see Pap’s Big Blue coal truck parked very hush-hush beside the rocket red tobacco barn. From the steps, we could smell Granny’s flowers in bloom. This place was our irrepressible truth. Inextinguishable in spirit, it held a simplicity so complex that its sound was silent and ancient.
Uneven steps. Propped up floorboards. When we asked it to do so, this old front porch evened out the boards that would pop up from our uneven lives. All that was beyond this place which was so desirable for us to acquire in our youth, now pales in comparison to the wisdom here. Here we found lessons. We learned to appreciate limits that could open up limitless possibilities. All things were both Alpha and Omega here.
We owe our story to the peaceful mornings here and to those hot days of summer when we sought shelter from the sun. Our heritage is found in the firefly-lit evenings here that beg minds to be still, to be like steel and to remember that we can always steal again here to safety when our souls call us back to this place. The old front porch on Puncheon Creek, where the cadence of ages beat as importantly as our very own hearts.
How have front porches, or other places, shaped who you are?
Theo “Alan” Edmonds, from Jackson Kentucky, is a faculty member at the University of Louisville School of Public Health & Information Sciences’ Center for Creative Placehealing and the co-founder of IDEAS xLab .
This column is brought to you by Our Breathitt, a community arts and health experience bringing together artists and Breathitt Countians from across Kentucky. Project is organized with IDEAS xLab (an artist-led nonprofit), and supported by the National Endowment for the Arts. Starting in August 2019, five collaborating writers, each with their own perspectives and ties to the county, will offer weekly columns and audio stories for radio and podcasts. Contact us at 859-397-1317 to join this conversation by leaving a voicemail with your response to the questions we raise and adding thoughts of your own! You may hear your responses incorporated into future posts and narratives! You can also email at email@example.com. We hope you will mark your calendars and join us at the Our Breathitt Summit, October 11-12 in Jackson, Kentucky. Information at www.ideasxlab.com/ourbreathitt.