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Thunderstorms, Front Porches, and a Little Patience

blog47We have had an adventurous few weeks around here. The first of the month, we hosted the Hester Family reunion and were the venue for Janey and Joel Yarborough’s wedding all the same weekend. Congratulations to them. The following week, we thoroughly enjoyed having the Summer Hostel group from Lipscomb University, followed immediately by more small family reunions for the Calverts, Beasons, and Jones.

But our weeks had challenges as well. After a very warm spell in late May and early June, the weather turned stormy to say the least. We had wave after wave of heavy thunderstorms with high winds and even small hail to accompany the drenching rains.

The most severe storm hit our area just two hours before the arrival of the Lipscomb University group. The event included a severe squall line, wind shear, or even small tornado that successfully took down a number of power poles, including three that served our inn. Fortunately, we have a gas stove and a small generator that provides electricity to our kitchen and dining room, so our meals were served as usual. All the guests were extremely understanding and the power company did their best to restore our electricity as soon as possible under difficult circumstances. We were inconvenienced, but the temperatures were cool and comfortable, the food hot and delicious, and our guests were extraordinarily patient.

Unfortunately, I was not as calm and patient as our guests. I felt it was my task was to make everyone’s stay as perfect as possible and was frustrated that I had no control over this particular situation. Impatience got the better of me. I repeatedly called the power company to remind them we were out of power and to find out how much longer it would be before it was restored. I would even drive my truck throughout the area, looking for the downed lines and the repair trucks. I guess I thought I could hijack one, tell them where the problems were, and convince them to stop whatever they were doing and come to Hemlock Inn.

I didn’t have any luck finding the repairmen, but I did start to notice an interesting phenomenon wherever I drove. In the evening, I would see folks sitting outside their homes on their front porches, stoops, carports, or even in their front yards. It reminded me of my childhood, especially at my grandmothers house, where that was a nightly occurrence. Before the advent of television, computers, and air conditioning, all the neighbors would congregate outside in the evenings and visit.

Unfortunately, most homes today don’t have front porches. It is much more common to find houses with back porches or decks or patios. Author Phillip Gulley wrote about front and back porches in his book For Everything, There is a Season. He felt people with front porches were honest, open and don’t have anything to fear while folks with back porches had something to hide. I don’t know about that, but I do know the folks I saw sitting outside seemed very content and calm, while I was nervously driving around.

Hemlock Inn has a front porch and for almost 60 years, it is where our guests have gathered before and after our meals to share about the events of their day. It is a special time filled with laughter and wild stories. Many of our guests have formed bonds and friendships that have lasted for years while visiting on our porch and around our tables. I would have been far better served if I had just done what I tell our guests so often… sit awhile, relax, enjoy the view and each other. The power came back on, it always does. The blackouts never last very long, but the peaceful time, watching the moon rise, the stars come out and spending time with friends and family are memories that last forever. I will try to remember that next time.

– Mort

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