CPR Section House

CPR Section House

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Porch

The porch on the section house in Mattawa was like the basement . In the sense that it was divided in half by a ship lap lumber wall: their and ours .

Our side had the old couch that Mum and Dad had purchased second hand when they were in Snake Creek . It had been relegated to the porch because mice had moved into it . So it was moved out . The mice didn't stay . Cold winters needed warmer lodgings for mice . I wonder where they ended up .

Their side ( neighbours ) had the front seat from an old car , which was in better shape than the couch .
That didn't stop my little brother from trying to trade . He really wanted that car seat on our porch side . " I have a good idea, Otto," he would say . " Why don't you give us the car seat and you can have our nice couch ? That's a good deal , eh ?" My brother was always filled with ' good ideas' and 'good deals' , in his opinion . The seat stayed put .

After supper , the neighbours sat on their side relaxing at the end of a long work day . Usually , we went inside to give them privacy for conversation . Occasionally BooBoo was out there trying to make some deal or other .He sat on the railing ,hung onto the support post and swung his top half around the partition . They would laugh at his self-interested deals that he tried to persuade were for their benefit .

During the day , the porch was kid territory . Mostly , it was imaginary games that we played on the porch . It was only six by ten feet so too much activity was restricted . Sometimes , the kids played cards : Crazy 8's , Slap Jack , Old Maid and War filled many an hour , especially when it rained .

Other times , we sat with a pencil and paper , staring at the 90 degree corner across the tracks where John St. became McConnell St . We kept tally of every vehicle's colour as it passed until we reached 100 cars . It was rare to reach the target for we usually gave up for lack of traffic .

Other times , we practised jumping from the veranda towards the first set of rails to see who could leap the farthest . Or , we would try jumping from the ground to the highest step that could be reached . I was in high school before I accomplished all three - four including the porch floor .

 On hot August afternoons , when we had watermelon to cool our sweating bodies , we practised spitting seeds as far as possible from the couch ...or squeezing them between our thumbs and index fingers until they sailed away from the porch toward the rail . I don't recall anyone actually hitting the rail , or do I believe a slippery black seed can make it that far . But , it was a summer ritual . No watermelon ever took root in our gravel and cinder front yard . Even with all the opportunities we provided .

Watching thunderstorms with great downpours and plenty of lightning was our favorite activity on the front porch . It was so exciting . The part of the deluge that hit the rails would splash back . We measured the strength of the storm by how high the rainfall splashed off the rails ,or by how well we could see the other side of the track .

 We counted the seconds between the flashes and the crashes to track how close the storm was . And when it got close , if it was powerful enough , we watched lightning hit the rails in our front yard . That much steel , nine sets of rails , made for a spectacular light show . A yellow fork hit the track some where near the house .The blue crackling bolt bounced along the rail until it found ground near one of the track switches . While the storm was overhead , we sat and watched until the thunders grew faint in the east .

About those three steps - it was during a thunderstorm , a real doozey , that I successfully made them all in one very large leap . Like all teenagers , thinking I was invincible , I stood out near the track during the height of the storm , braving the thunder , lightning and down pour . I was fairly smug about this accomplishment , as no one was brave enough to stand with me . Or stupid enough I might add .

Of all the rails to choose , the lightning picked the rail next to which I was standing . There was a silence of a few seconds , then a mighty crack . The lightning hit very close , in fact right behind my 'ego stage' . In one enormous leap , I went from the track onto the porch . When I left the ground , I did not touch it again . I virtually flew through the air . Take off and landing in under two seconds . The leap was never matched again . Neither was the enjoyment of the spectators on the porch over my taste brush with retributive justice .

I never became afraid of thunder and lightning . I still find it exciting . But I do have a healthy respect for its power ...and the power of adrenalin .

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