The Porch made Grandaddy (Papa) Breazeale's place complete, I think.
A place from which to enjoy the power and beauty and freshness of a summer rainstorm,
without getting wet,
A place that served as a cool retreat for Papa's old fox hounds.
"John Jackson Sampson Breazeale, them dogs gon' waller all the dirt from under them foundation rocks if you don't do somethin' 'bout it!"
It was a place for working or talking, and sometimes the work and talk happened at the same time.
"Now, you grandyoungin's spread them peas out better'n that, so's they don't go through a heat!"
Hours spent rocking and pea shelling and talking on Papa's Porch are firmly etched memories. And listening. Did I mention listening? Collective listening, taking place unconsiously within the cocophony of squeaking rockers and creaking floorboards and random gossip, all of which would stop suddenly in response to some event echoing through the hollers.
"Now, I wonder what in the world is got Ol' Man Burchfield's howgs all upset?"
It was big enough, and had enough straight chairs for all 42 first cousins, counting the dog-trot. I know this, because we were all there at once, once. For laughter, for reminiscing, reunion and tears when Mama Breazeale died in '56.
"I sure wish I had some 'o Mama's big 'ol cat head buiscuits!"
"Who's gon' take care 'o all Mama's roses?"
"Who's gon' take care 'o Papa?"
"Don't y'all thank they done a good job over at the funeral home? Don't she look natural?"
"Papa ain't gon' stay 'round here, I tell y'all that right now!"
After that, it all fell into disrepair, and eventually just fell, like a lot of other porches on a lot of other old family farmhouses all over the South. Sometimes, the paper companies bought the land, and bulldozed the houses because they were sitting on the best places for log landings. Sometimes, the Wisteria and Jasmine and Honeysuckle overtook them and weighed them down. And sometimes, like at Papa's place, they just slowly settled into the earth itself, covered, like a casket, by the pink and white and red blooms of now-wild climbing roses.