I’ve always had a fondness for porches. Growing up in northern Indiana, I remember playing with my siblings out on the porch, usually only if it was raining because if the weather was nice, we were running up and down the sidewalks, playing in the yard, or riding our bikes. But the porch was always there as a retreat, so we wouldn’t have to go inside if the weather turned ugly. The grownups in our family spent a lot of time on the porch, as well, so when they were out there, we always found somewhere else to be. My Dad’s mother, my “Bigmama”, shelled peas on the porch. I remember her scooping them up in her apron to take them inside. My “Bigpapa” would sit beside her, a silent partner in the shelling, but I imagine he always looked forward to enjoying those peas. My Mother’s mother and step-father, my “Grandma and Grandpa”, sat on the porch and watched the traffic go by. My Grandpa would sometimes water the front lawn with the garden hose, sitting on the knee wall. I often wondered what he was thinking about, as he appeared to be a million miles away, watching the water soak deep into the ground. I remember both sets of grandparents sitting on the porch to watch the rain, even thunder storms. I didn’t really understand their fascination at the time, but I do now.
Both my paternal and maternal grandparents had metal gliders on their porches. We loved those gliders and would pile up in them. I’m sure we pushed the gliding capabilities to their limit. Siblings, cousins, and friends would rush to see how many would fit and, somehow, we always found room for everyone. My maternal grandparents were smokers and my Dad would often refer to the “little lights on the porch” we could see as we drove passed their house on the way home from church services. It was too late to stop on school nights, but he always honked the horn and we all waved.
Since I’ve been married and living in Florida, we’ve never really had a porch. The houses we’ve lived in have had more of a stoop outside the front door, barely room for a potted plant and certainly not big enough for a chair. I imagine that’s because of the sweltering heat and the need for air conditioning. Time spent in the sun is usually reserved for the beach or those who don’t have a choice, due to employment, at least when summer is at its peak. I guess that’s why I’m so excited about the house we live in now, in Tallahassee. We’re farther north in the state and we actually have a bit of a change in seasons . . . certainly much more so than Central Florida. We even have a fireplace!
I’ve missed many things about Indiana, my friends and family, basketball (It seems the Midwest is more into basketball and the South more into football – I like both, but miss those fast-paced games!), looking out at the fresh-fallen snow, riding snowmobiles (many thanks to the Ryan family for those memories), and so much more . . . but, I especially miss my time spent on the porch. I guess maybe that’s why it’s been important to me to revisit my porch time, the older I get. Precious memories are made, friendships are born, bonds are strengthened, and oftentimes, much needed soul searching, revelations, and “ah-ha moments” surprise us, while visiting on the porch.
Our current house came with a double rocker on the front porch. It is well worn with a good bit of the paint already chipped off, but I don’t think that wear is from use. I think, rather, it’s from the bright afternoon sun that beats down on it every day. That sun has done a number on our wooden front door, as well. The first year we lived here, my family gave me two wooden rocking chairs for Christmas and those set on the opposite side of the porch as the double rocker. Lots of room for everyone! I’m grateful for dear neighbors who feel comfortable enough to take time out of their busy schedules to join us on the porch, every now and then. We have enjoyed hot coffee, tasty wine (stronger libations for some), and yummy snacks on the porch. But, what I’ve enjoyed the most is our conversation and shared bursts of uncontrollable laughter. I love seeing how much alike we are and I love developing a deeper understanding of and appreciation for what makes us different. The day after one couple sat with us on the porch for hours, laughing and talking, another neighbor said, “It sounded like you were having a good time last night. Next time, how about coming over and knocking on our door so we can join you!” Just what I wanted to hear! It wasn’t long before that couple joined us on the porch, treating us to some of their favorite wine and some amazing smoked gouda/crackers! We learned a lot about each other and we laughed a lot that night, too. It’s as though sweet music filled the air with each burst of unbridled laughter!
I can’t help but think, if we took the time to join one another on the porch from time to time, perhaps our thoughts would be kinder, our words would be sweeter, our hearts would be gentler, and our lives would be richer . . . no doubt, this world would be a better place in which to live. Come on over, my friends. You’re always welcome on the porch!