As I was walking to the post office the other day an acquaintance stopped me and asked if I was done writing articles for the newspaper. I told her it had been a busy month for my family and I just had not had the extra time to sit down and form an idea. I also told her that I like my articles to be inspired by something, and I just hadn’t seen the light yet.
Well, time is slowing down, and the light has sparked a thought in me, so here goes.
A few weeks ago we celebrated Memorial Day, and as tradition would have it my family gathered for yet another McConnaughey Memorial Day weekend by the family pond. We believe this tradition dates back at least 20 years, but none of us are really sure. It is a great weekend of camping, fishing, reminiscing and good old family fellowship. I find it amazing how many people comment on the fact they saw all of the tents on the hill or saw us out having a great time at the farm. And that we do. Rain or shine, we always enjoy the weekend. That brings me to my inspiration.
It was early Monday morning, and I do mean early. I awoke around 5:30 that morning for some reason. We had seen some rain off and on, and so our weekend was a little hampered, but for the most part everyone had a great time. On this morning, I walked from the pond toward the farmhouse. I decided I would use the restroom and change my clothes. As I came out of the house the crisp beautiful morning greeted me at the door, and there it was – the family porch swing. Porch swings for some reason always grab my attention. There is just something about a beautiful wood porch swing with the chains that creak as you glide along, almost as if the chains are talking to you telling their story of the day.
I decided to sit a while on the swing — the swing where all my grandparents sat, where my father and mother have sat, and where I now sit. Each campout weekend, my emotions seem to get the best of me these days and I can even recall those family members that are no longer with us sitting on that same swing. I wish I could share the picture I was able to take that day as the early morning fog floated over the top of the beautiful wheat field. The sun was just making its way over the top of the Rose family’s trees. They have lived next door to the farm for as long as I can remember. Sometimes a picture can capture a moment, and sometimes it is just a picture. This was a moment that was just a picture.
It just so happened to be beautiful, but it was just a picture. It couldn’t quite capture my emotions as I took it all in. It couldn’t quite embody what that place has meant to me over the years. While on that porch swing my emotions got the best of me and all of the memories came flooding back. It was that blasted swing.
In 2001, my wife and I built our first house. We had rented for the first several years of our marriage, but it was time for us to make somewhere home and raise our children. One of the first things that went into the plans was a porch big enough for a porch swing. We have a porch swing, and it hangs there every day inviting me to sit and have a talk. It talks to us on windy days as it sways back and forth, and it talks to us as we sit in it.
What is it about a porch swing? My problems always seem to melt away, if even for a minute, as I sit on that swing overlooking the East Fork of the Little Miami. There is some kind of magic in a porch swing, but I can’t quite figure out what it is.
There have been four very loved porch swings in my life. My grandpa and grandma Emery in Sugar Tree Ridge housed the first swing. It was padded and smooth, but it didn’t talk much. It allowed you to glide quietly and enjoy the serenity of that little town. You could fly really high on the swing as it ran with the porch. I loved that porch swing until one day when my brother and I went for a little trip on it. That trip was the result of a broken chain and two very sore backsides.
The second swing was the aforementioned swing at the McConnaughey farm. It was a large, flat swing that was just at the perfect height for slow swinging. It was nestled up against the house, so you couldn’t swing freely, but it was such an easy ride.
The third swing was in my childhood home. I still swing on it today, and love to look out over the field and listen to the chains talk. It is this swing that I could always hear talking as my parents and I would have conversations on the phone. I always knew when they were out on the porch, because those chains told the story.
The fourth swing is mine. It is hunter green, and it matches the shutters of our home. I think our porch would look empty without it. My Saturday mornings tend to be a meeting time for myself and that swing. Many decisions are made while spending time with it, and many conversations have been had between my wife and children on that swing. Each day it waits for a passenger, a friend to come and spend time — to enjoy the journey of a peaceful glide out over the concrete porch allowing our feet to feel like they are on air.
Porch swings hold some kind of special power that I can’t really quite explain. I sort of feel like it is the same as that magic in that picture of the sunrise on that cool, foggy Memorial Day morning. You can’t feel the magic unless you partake. Find an opportunity to sit in the swing, take your shoes off and listen to the chains as they tell you their story.
Dad, if you’re listening, your chains are still telling the story.
Chad McConnaughey is the Highland County recorder.