Nature’s song is a memory

Published 4:52 am Wednesday, June 27, 2018

To a 4-year-old, most things appear quite large, and a year lasts an absolute eternity. When I was 4, my home in rural Simpson County with the porch across the front seemed gigantic. The memory of an encounter with nature on this front porch is as fresh today as the afternoon it occurred.

It was past time for my trip to Mrs. Barlow’s Beauty Salon. My mom always kept my hair cut short. It stuck out over my ears, and I didn’t like it. I always wondered why the other girls in the family were allowed to grow beautiful long locks, and I was doomed to my boyish cut.

I pushed the long bangs from my eyes and relaxed in an old chair on the porch. The hot summer sun beat down, causing beads of sweat to form on my upper lip. Lazily, I licked my lips enjoying the salty taste on my tongue.

What a scorcher, I thought mimicking the adult’s conversation I had overheard around the lunch table. In reality, the hot summer temperatures had little effect on me. I enjoyed playing outside in the heat and had never been exposed to air-conditioning so I didn’t know anything else.

Occasionally, I would leave the yard for a little rest in the old chair on the porch. It had overstayed its welcome in the house, and was banished to its new spot until the kids and dogs managed to wear it completely out. The stuffing was coming out, but an old quilt covered the hole.

On this particular afternoon, I sat in the comfy chair, lost in my imaginings, when an uncharacteristically cool breeze wafted through the trees in the yard, gently rustling the leaves. The delightful sensation on my warm, damp skin stirred something deep inside me. My eyes widened with interest as my senses came alive.

The blue cloudless sky of a few moments before had turned grey. In the distance, dark purple thunderheads danced through the heavenlies as if for my pleasure alone. The gentle breeze of only moments before now whirled with abandon whistling through the branches of my favorite climbing tree.

Thunder rumbled in the distance. I breathed in the smell of rain in the air and felt more alive that I had ever before. Lightning pierced the darkening sky like fireworks on the Fourth of July, and thunder boomed like a cannon. I pulled the quilt around my shivering body while my heart beat faster. Excitement coursed through my veins while the actors in nature’s show danced and sang their way into my heart.

That was 50-some-odd years ago. My love of nature and storms never left me from that day to this. The beautiful and exciting cleansing and replenishing of the earth through a summer storm always reminds me of the little freckle-faced girl on her porch in Simpson County and her newfound delight in God’s magnificent creation.

Jan Penton Miller can be reached at