Summer used to bring us into a room we didn’t get to use the rest of the year: the front porch. Our porch was about ten by twenty. It had four big columns on the front holding up the roof. At the corner column was a wonderful round gutter downspout where you could stand on the porch during a summer shower and watch the water squirt out the holes in the downspout (holes that were worn in it through time, and probably with the assistance of little boys, but I digress). You could hold your fingers over the holes and the water would squirt out other holes. It was more fun than anything I had to do in the house. I lived for summer showers.
It was one of those warm nights, I had been playing in the puddles in the front yard and making little rivers in the ditch with a stick after playing with the downspout. Daddy came out to sit and rest after a long day at work. He was somewhat full of himself at this point. He lit up a cigarette (sorry, if you’re allergic or sensitive, he was a smoker, and I’m being real here), and began blowing smoke rings, one after the other. I went to the porch since the snails were coming out and stepping on a slimy snail in bare feet was not the most pleasant experience, but the porch was a good place to go when you weren’t ready to go inside. We didn’t have a real chatty relationship, just two dudes sitting on the porch. I think I was about eight or nine. The fireflies were beginning to come out.
“Did I ever tell you about the time this feller had a farm just like this one?” He nodded over to the family farm across the creek. I shook my head with sincerity. The slightest grin was apparent on his face, but I didn’t notice it.
“Yeah, he was having a great time growing his garden. He planted all of it and then he went to the barn and got load after load of cow manure and hauled it to his garden. He got really tired working so hard. He took a garden hose and siphoned up water from the creek and spread it all over the garden, making the soil so rich it was just a black as midnight.” He’d glance over to see how he was doing at hooking me in. His voice was so matter of fact, I was sitting there wondering who he was talking about.
All at once he commenced to add detail to this story.
“He woke up about two weeks later and went out to check his garden out and, lo and behold. He couldn’t believe his eyes. Cabbages so big you could climb them. Taters so tall birds were nesting in their branches. Onions looked like tall palm trees without leaves on top. Just three or four big ole poles sticking out of the ground here and there. And the peas. They were so big he couldn’t believe his eyes. The pea pods were longer than the barn. Every one of them was full and you could see the shape of the peas inside poking out of the walls.” My eyes were big and my heart pounding.
“He decided he wanted to take a look inside one of them. He went and got his tractor and chain and hooked the chain to the pea pod and drove away, ripping the string off the pod. About that time three or four big old peas, as big as cars, come just a rolling out of that old pea pod. They rolled so fast they picked up steam and headed straight for the tractor. Directly they mashed that tractor flat and rolled plum over the driver.” He paused to blow a smoke ring. I was sitting there with a sad look on my face.
“Next morning,” he spoke slowly, “the newspaper headline said, ‘Man Gets Killed By Giant Pea.'”
I groaned. Daddy just sat there grinning like an old possum, blowing smoke rings. He laughed a few times, and wheezed a little. I smiled politely and walked in the house. Nobody had to ask me to get ready for bed that night. I just went in and went to bed. That night I dreamed about the downspout and that one hole where you could make the water shoot three or feet out into the yard.