Monday, July 11, 2011

What Puts You in Your 'Happy Place'?

I love country music. As a writer, I find certain songs transport me right smack dab into the middle of my books. It won’t surprise any of you that know me well they that I skip through most drinking and cheating songs. I’ve been happily married for 26 years and don’t have use for infidelity. Though I do make an exception for Carrie Underwood’s ‘Before He Cheats’—I love a woman who refuses to be a victim.

What appeals to me about country music is the plethora of ‘family’ and patriotic songs. What’s not to love about music that treasures home and country? Songs that celebrate hard work, loyalty, service to one another, helping out a friend, being there for another and faith in God? Life is NOT a ‘do-it-yourself’ project, it’s an “I’m-here-to-help-if-I-can” deal.

Helping can be as simple as crying with someone when they are dealt a rough hand or coordinating the myriad of details when a surgery disrupts family routine: child care, food needs, transportation and the never-ending piles of laundry.

In the words of  two country songs: It’s just life. It’s what we do.

I am partial to ‘front porch’ songs: I haven’t heard one I don’t like. My favorite two are Tracy Lawrence’s “If the World had a Front Porch”, a song that extolls the virtues of treating people like good neighbors and kin, solving the world’s problems with understanding and enjoying the blessings of a front porch swing.

The front porch swing has set the scene for many a first kiss, a gentle scolding for bad behavior, a quiet moment between two people, rocking in peace and harmony with just crickets and frogs to play background music.

If the world had a front porch like we did back then
We'd still have our problems but we'd all be friends
Treatin' your neighbor like he's your next of kin
Wouldn't be gone with the wind
If the world had a front porch like we did back then

Lonestar’s : “My Front Porch Looking In.” is a song about prioritizing family, a song where a man has it all: a music career that provides well for his family, but he doesn’t feel complete until he’s home, looking in through his front door and seeing the important people in his world: his wife and children.

Both songs transport me instantly into the middle of my West books: a series about a family who have known many trials, but who come together and help and strengthen one another rather than divide and fall apart. The West family farm is modeled after one I spent every possible moment I could as a teen.

I loved the front porch, I loved the swing, and I loved the steps as well. I often sat gazing at a small flock of white ducks playing in the nearby creek, shaded by huge maple trees. The smell of growing alfalfa or corn wafting through in the air. Good times. Moments that made all the difference in a hurried life.

One day I will have a home in the country with an extra-large kitchen and huge table for my family to gather around. Almost as important will be the front porch, complete with an extra-large swing in hopes that many a memory will be forged and shared.

My blessing are in front of me, it’s not about the land.
I’ll never beat the view from my front porch looking in.