Banner Mountain Girl–Part Two
Summer evenings of my childhood were spent with the family sitting on the front porch. Usually, we kids roamed around the yard catching lightning bugs and dropping them into a fruit jar with holes punched in the lid so they could breathe. With their bright lights going on and off, they lit up the jar until we tired of playing and set them free. We listened to the song of the whippoorwill as the bird of night sang contentedly from his place out on the dirt road which was edged by tall pines and sheltering oaks. Sometimes a mockingbird sang, too, from the highest point at the top of the house.
The house that daddy built was designed with a gable roof of oak wood shakes. The two sides joined together forming an upside-down V shape. At that point in front of the house, the mockingbird sat to sing, even late at night with only the moon glow to see by. The slant of the roof over the porches angled down, supported by cedar posts with limbs trimmed short to serve as a catch-all. Lard buckets hung on the back-porch posts and were filled with ripening tomatoes in summertime. Or if nothing hung on the posts’ limbs, they were just right and smooth for a kid to climb up and down to get rid of over-active energy. How can a child be perfectly still as adults? Not even one of us kids could be still as our contented parents were.
Does anyone sit on front porches anymore? Probably not. Banner Mountain summers are so hot that people nowadays perhaps lounge inside their homes with the air conditioner running full speed. And likely as not, kids are punching on iPhones. Modern architecture has done away with the use of smooth cedar posts at edges of porches. Many houses are built with only a stoop or a small porch at the entry. A place to go in and out as today’s “Mountaineers” hurry and scurry on their way to all that awaits them beyond the rise—out there in the world. Perhaps only a stone’s throw to work or school. But far away from the sound of June bugs buzzing and the sight of flashing lights in a fruit jar.
Surely, the summers of long ago were not as wonderful as they appear in my memory. But even if in memory they are magnified five times over, I know how happy I was to feel the pure dust of Banner Mountain between my bare toes.
© Freeda Baker Nichols