My Nana’s house was tiny—a “cracker box,” my father called it—with a tar roof and peeling paint, two bedrooms and a single bathroom. She stored her wringer washing machine beside the creaky screen door, and stretched a clothesline between the apricot and fig trees in her grassy backyard.
Cozy enough for two, it was a tight squeeze for ten. But when our car rolled up to the curb, she burst through the front door, apron strings flying, and welcomed all eight of us with open arms.
I loved everything about my Nana’s house, but I have special memories of her front porch swing. It wasn’t fancy at all: just a slatted-wood bench, attached to the rafters with metal chains. But when daylight gave way to moonlit evenings, Grandpa Fred would settle his lanky frame into the swing and pull me into his lap. It was a cherished nightly ritual: I’d snuggle into his flannel shirt, and he’d stuff a wad of cherry tobacco into his pipe, light a match and suck on the pipe stem until the tobacco glowed red. We swayed back and forth in wordless silence, twisting pipe cleaners into clothespin dolls as the tobacco curled itself into smoky ribbons that drifted overhead.
That’s me on the left, standing with two of my sisters in Nana’s driveway.
To this day, I don’t think there’s anything more soothing than the back-and-forth rhythm of a porch swing, especially when it’s shared with someone you love. If you’ve ever experienced that, I know you’ll understand why I’ve always wanted a porch swing of my own.
It’s one of those dreams that’s proven more fanciful than practical. My front porch is welcoming, but it’s not big enough to swing your legs wide and far. Our backyard is filled with butterflies and birdsong, and the adjacent hillside is teeming with wildlife—all of which invites us to linger, to make new memories and share our stories. Even so, there’s no place to hang an old-fashioned swing.
But that’s how it goes sometimes, isn’t it? Times change. We adapt. Like this tangerine tree in our backyard, we cling to life’s sweetness — even as we make the inevitable changes, one generation to the next.
When I was a little girl, I vowed that when I eventually had a home of my own, I’d get myself a porch swing like Nana’s. But when that didn’t work out, for one reason and another, I looked high and low for a suitable alternative. A stand-alone swing might just work, I told myself, but store-bought options were either too big, too small, too rickety or stiff.
Patience isn’t my strongest virtue, but in this case, it paid off. Because, voilà! Like magic, a classified ad appeared on my NextDoor app: Two slightly-used rocking chairs AND a glider, $50.00 to the first responder.
SOLD, in a blink of an eye! Granted: my lifelong wish!
Yes, they need a good scrubbing. Seat cushions would be nice. The paint is so glossy, so glaringly white, and I much prefer a weathered look. But…$50.00, for the whole set! I couldn’t resist.
No, they’re not what I originally envisioned, but with a little elbow grease, I can transform these cast-offs into something beautiful. If I use my imagination, I can turn their rigid backs into something more rounded, soft and soothing.
Truth be told, I don’t even know where I’ll put them all. (Shhh! Don’t tell my husband!) But I’ll make room for them somewhere…it’s what we do, for the things (the people and memories) we love and cherish.