The Front Porch by Betha Lee Roberts

Swish swosh the knife cuts through the golden flesh of the cantaloupe freeing it from the perfectly netted rind. The last two crescents I gulp are sweet as ripened mangoes.   The front porch on the old country vacation house is the perfect kitchen for me. I am alone and a bit too far from the highway for anyone to see exactly what I am doing I think.  However, my eighty-five year old friend remarked that she drove past the highway and saw me sitting on the porch and remembered my parents sitting there thirty years ago. In a fleeting thought it occurs to me that now there are so many mesquite trees everywhere it must be more challenging to see exactly what anyone might be doing on the porch. Then I make myself get up and carry the sweet slices in the plastic container into the house and the refrigerator.

Ah, …. well, it is hopeless for me to write about the front porch. What I want to write about is my immobility and fear. There is fear and procrastination that blocks me at every move. For instance, in the last quadrant of my life I am afraid to devote myself to my love of painting. Twenty years earlier, painting for commission on the furniture belonging to patrons held no inhibition for me. Without a qualm, I put faux finishes of my own making to restore tops of family’s heirloom pieces and brushed on designs with my trusty brush strokes – all of this while I worked at a full or part time job. Now in the era of retirement, my forays into painting result in trips to buy new brushes and an assortment of new watercolors, drawing pencils, and papers.

Free from time limitations, my spirit is bound by inaction.   I now want to commit the final quadrant of remaining years to just painting what I want to paint, and to sew what I want to sew, and to write what I want to write, to live where I want to live.  It is a leap of faith and courage to reveal these desires to another in print because then I then admit that I am inadequate, unable to follow my own wishes.  Maybe my intent is to reveal in writing my abysmal failure to act, and by doing so, to free myself to take the actions to bring my innermost hopes into reality at this time in life.  There are those people who will voice an opinion about the viability of such desires, so I think to keep my ideas secret and close to my heart.  Another pitfall for me is my insatiable desire to please people and to fall victim to their agendas.  So, perhaps with the declaration of my inmost desires will come a courage to countermand the pushes and nudges of the people in my world, who after all, are really quite kind and sweet people for the most part.  Now is the time for me to pray to God to follow His plan for me.

How do I get the courage to set up my little studio and to buy a sewing machine? After all, I might not be able to use a zipper foot to make cording anymore. That skill might be lost to me in the last forty years.  There is a lethargy in me that threatens to consume me at the last of my life.  Maybe my competence dwindled through the years.  I can’t wait for  February and March of 2013 to go their cold dreary way so I can sit on the front porch again.  There is still a fair view of the Rocking Chair Mountains even with the encroaching mesquite. Sitting there is a comfort to my soul, and the present restlessness to accomplish will leave me sooner or later. Peace is what I really want. After dumping the cantaloupe rinds in the trash, I quickly wash my hands before I return to my metal chair on the porch. Ah, the great spectator sport of bird watching delights me. Through my field binoculars I watch the timid oriole grabbing ripe mulberries off of the old tree my mother and I set out as a foot long sapling, and I am content to revel in the beauty of God’s creations.

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Filed under Betha Lee Roberts, General, Genre, Memoirs, Nonfiction

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