Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Lovely View of Heaven

Long ago and far away, I set foot ever so briefly upon a porch in San Francisco, deep in the trees, bougainvillea draped over the porch rail, wooden steps leading down into an overgrown garden of a backyard. Paradise. It was the home that, at that time in my life, I could only dream of having. And I've never forgotten it.

Perhaps it was that trip, or maybe one years later. I can't even begin to reproduce the chronology of my own life at this point. I was riding shotgun in a Volkswagen Vanagon across the Nevada desert with the full moon setting in the west and the sun rising behind us as we raced for the California border. A friend had died, and we were on our way from Colorado to his memorial service at the Polo Fields down at the end of Haight Street.

With the full moon setting over the desert, burning my sleepy eyes, here's what he said:

Standing on the moon,
Where talk is cheap and vision true;
Standing on the moon
But I would rather be with you.
Somewhere in San Francisco
On a back porch in July,
Just looking up to heaven
At this crescent in the sky.

Standing on the moon
With nothing left to do
A lovely view of heaven
But I would rather be with you.

Be with you.

That trip was the very one where I realized that I would, in fact, rather be with you. The days when I imagined myself alone and victorious on a snowy mountaintop, ice axe in hand, were over. I made a very conscious decision that week, standing atop a big piece of rock in Yosemite Valley, to join the human race.

Ever since then, when I see a good back porch, I think of that song. I've always imagined Jerry sitting on that back porch in San Francisco, the one that exists in my memory's eye, writing those lyrics.
I finally found a good back porch of my own. It's high up in the Florida live oaks, right up there in the canopy. I can watch the squirrels, cardinals and woodpeckers all day long from here. The Spanish moss is dripping in. I love it. I've got a candle lit, an empty bottle of white wine from an earlier dinner with friends, and the crickets are singing. The moon is peeking through the trees. It's a lovely view of heaven.

 Here's what's on my brother's mind tonight. We may be separated by an entire continent, but if this is what he's listening to, he's not so far away after all.

Jim James, Wonderful, Newport Folk Fest 2008

1 comment:

  1. Glad you'd rather be with us, we're all the better for it.