All I could see as the storm rolled in was the darkened sky and the wind moving the leaves of the trees — green shifting through an entire spectrum of its shades. I watched, leaning back in my chair, tucked safely under the awning. I suppose lightning could still strike me — but the storm wasn’t here yet. This didn’t bother me, because sitting on my porch as a storm rolled in reminded me of when I would do the same thing with my dad.
Obviously, the porch was a little different at his house: front yard instead of back, longer and more places to sit, and with much nicer seating. When a storm was coming in, I could often find my dad on the front porch, rocking gently on the bench swing, as distant thunder rumbled. We had a clearer view of the sky from that porch and my dad would take the time to point out the shape of clouds and explain to me what they meant in terms of the type of weather we could expect.
My dad and I were closer in those days, sharing little moments like that and discussing weather patterns and experiencing them as they unfurled all around us. If we weren’t watching weather on our front porch, he was watching it on the Weather Channel. Thinking on it now, it may have been those moments that sparked my interest in reading books about the weather — way before I decided I would be a teacher there was a brief period where I wanted to be a storm chaser. Movies like Twister didn’t help, but I have to imagine that the interest was initially sparked by my dad’s own interest — back when I considered myself one of those “daddy’s girls.”
That was before he got pulled down into the muck of politics and specifically the vitriol spewed by Fox News. I can’t remember the last time we sat peacefully on a porch together. I can’t remember the last time I could speak to him without worrying that he was going to say something offensive. And worst of all, I can’t remember the last time I felt like I could speak out against him, because there was still a small part of me that was his little girl. I hate that about myself and I hate that it’s now darkened my memories from our front porch in a way a literal storm never could.
But, a different kind of storm is rolling in — a less literal one — and I’m not sure I can just watch from my porch any longer.