If you’re a Southerner, chances are you’ve spent a long time sitting on a porch listening to stories from your grandparent or great aunt. Most likely, the respected senior was rhythmically swaying on a porch swing or a creaky rocking chair. Mosquitos were probably treating you like a buffet, and the humidity making you feel sticky. While listening, you may have been picking at the old paint on the porch step. If you’ve been on such a porch on such a day, you’d probably already heard the story several times before, but listened patiently as it was retold yet again.
In our social-media infused, google-run, multi-tasking reality, lazy porch-sitting days require a mental switch and a physical sigh to make the transition. Once we can put the smart phones aside, stop fidgeting, and become re-accustomed to listening and being present, we can find so much value in our history, in those stories retold.
Along with the oral history in my family, I highly value the physical reminders of these stories that I am able to use on a daily basis. From my grandmother’s sewing desk, to my 1936 1st edition Valentine Williams mysteries, to salt and pepper shakers from France circa World War II; from a potato masher and wooden spoon passed down, to a great-grandmother’s long amber necklace, to the art supplies used by my grandmother over 50 years past…these “relics” of my family’s history give my present reality greater depth and a rich connection to something more than me.
I work to bring these thoughts, and this peaceful, porch-rocking spirit of Southern life into my pastel paintings. I hope they help you breathe a little more deeply, and remember the stories retold in your own life.