(Swallowtail on my petunias)
Like most people, I have an image of my dream house in my mind. It has evolved over the years, but right now I envision a two-story Victorian with a turret. The turret has windows all around and window seats with reading nooks where I can curl up with a book and gaze out at the birds singing in the huge oak tree out front and wave at my neighbor who’s coming up my front steps with a freshly-baked loaf of banana bread…oops, sorry…I got carried away. Anyhow, in my dream, my Victorian is painted a sunny yellow, with white gingerbread trim and old-fashioned roses climbing up the latticework and railings out front. There are window boxes in every window with a riot of bright flowers tumbling out and a slightly unkempt English garden to the side, where hollyhocks and gladiolas and hydrangeas and pansies and zinnias and Johnny jump-ups grow in mad profusion. And the porch—it’s huge—a wraparound porch, with a bead board ceiling and ceiling fans turning lazily in the cool morning breeze. There’s plenty of room for rockers and gliders and a swing or two. And in my dream, there I am, in the swing, moving languidly back and forth, drinking a glass of freshly-squeezed lemonade and reading a new book of Lee Smith or Tim Gautreaux short stories.
Yeah, that’s the dream.
The reality is that I live in an older doublewide trailer with low ceilings, low doorways, vinyl siding, vinyl trim, vinyl walls, vinyl floors, and vinyl shelves. One word: Plastic. But at least, we have a porch. Not a wraparound—in fact, it’s rather small. And when we moved here, it was a very plain porch indeed. The people we bought the place from even took the attached swing with them. But my philosophy has always been that you really can make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Or lemonade out of lemons. Whichever cliché you prefer.
So soon after moving in, I set to work. We found some reasonably-priced rockers and a swing to match on sale at Lowes. I found some cushions with an old-fashioned flowered print on clearance. We put Victorian gingerbread in all the corners of the porch. And when spring arrived, we installed window boxes all across the front and sides of the porch and I planted petunias, vincas, and snapdragons in them. There was almost no landscape in front—just weedy grass growing right up to the front of the porch. So I planted some tiny lilacs I found on sale at Kmart and some bee balm and catmint and zinnias and purple coneflowers, as well as some of the plentiful daisies I found growing in the fields. And I bought a packet of morning glory seeds and planted them at the base of the porch lattice, with the idea that they’d grow enchantingly up the lattice. And they grew very, very well. (Caveat: When it tells you on the seed packet to thin out the morning glory seedlings, believe them. Lord have mercy, they grow like kudzu!)
(This is what happens when you don’t thin your seedlings. My porch, my porch steps…)
So, whenever I get the chance, I sit in my porch swing, moving languidly back and forth, drinking a glass of freshly-made-from-concentrate lemonade and reading Lee Smith or Tim Gautreaux or whatever new author I’ve discovered at the library. I swing and I dream. And I gaze out at the distant blue mountains and watch as the late-summer wind sends the clouds tumbling across the sky.
And, sometimes, I can almost imagine that I’m living in my dream house after all. My lovely Victorian doublewide. (Did I mention that I have a very vivid imagination?) Well, at least…I’m living my dream. When I was young, growing up in sandy, flat, swampy eastern North Carolina, I dreamed of living in the Appalachian mountains one day. And here I am.
Perhaps not in the place of my material dreams. No, definitely not. But I’m in the place my soul has dreamed. At last, I’m in the place my heart has always lived. And I am so grateful. Glory be.
So, I was wondering…does your soul dream? What does it dream? Are you living the sweetest dreams of your soul?
(The fairy dreams of morning glories)