Friday, August 6, 2010


The house in my heart has porches. My Dad loved porches. Observe. Sit. Be. Dabble in your comforts with a privacy that says 'this is my house', knowing you can always step inside even with the excuse 'I'll be just a minute, getting coffee' and return at your own given speed. Or not.

On the porch the wild and the tamed play with boundaries. Gently. The potted flowers. The swatted flies. The ferile cat tempted to a store-caught meal. A head rub. Triage space - does this wound require some attention? Something more than sitting on the porch and being cared about will heal? Then come inside my friend and be warm. There are a lot of other creatures here in this house, some gentle, some fearsome, some goofy and lovable. But all will call you family. Find your corner and rest my love. You are safe here.

Fair warning, it takes a very brave soul to venture down the basement stairs. The furnace burns and clangs down there. Often we find its easier and just more efficient to keep the house comfortable with the pellet stove up here where we can all see it. Keep it going. Poke the furnace in the wrong spot and she could blow the whole damn thing up.

There are sunny window nooks here, filled with jungles of plants, tendrils and spikes. Mysterious pots of dormant life waiting to try at living out loud above the dark blanket it rests in. Lots of chairs to try - move around or stake your claim. And there are always always the porches. The back where friends come to rebuild the world as you know it, recalling this and that. Inviting you to share in something new. Words at the gate. A paper you don't take shows up on a chair. The wave as the mailman walks by on his way to the front porch, where the world is more easily let in. A dish of this, a vial of that comes to the door. Creek, clang, "hallooooo?" Cats of all colors, except black and white, slip in and out.

When life gets hard the front porch bustles. The house a vast territory keeping most at bay from the porch in the back where the rhythms and breath and peacefulness of those who have come to call this house home sit and watch and think and be safe.

Dear Judy, you saved my Dad's life when you coaxed him out of the wild and onto your front porch. You invited him to stay if he would. To love and be loved - welcome to bring his bags and find a place to settle in. He had a lot of wounds to heal, and an insatiable drive to ride around and make some noise and partake of the pleasures and thrills to be had on this earth. And you were wildly beautiful and an explorer with a fiery heart and an intoxicating, soothing hearth. Share my house, share my heart you said. And for many years he did so - spending many hours on the front porch. And something slowly, suddenly both - shifted. He joined you to restore the house - to something you envisioned and needed together. And his heart found its center with you. And he moved to the back porch.

Daddy. Thank you for giving me the wildness in you, that so needs a center. And for this lesson you taught me, not by telling but by living it - about the importance of porches.

James T. Hannan born Feb. 10, 1942, left us to fish the big waters Aug. 4, 2010.