Appalachian Thursday – Porch Swings

I enjoy looking at historic homes on-line and recently realized that porch swings are much more common to the rural south–including Appalachia. It finally hit me that northern homes don’t have as many swings–or porches for that matter–because the season for sitting outside is so much shorter.

In the mountains of NC we’ve hit prime porch-sitting weather. Warm days, cool evenings, occasional rain pattering on the roof, and soft breezes. And while I really like our house, one of its shortcomings is a pitiful front porch. We sit on the steps sometimes (Thistle LOVES doing this first thing in the morning) but the porch is too narrow for a swing. My husband hung one for me along the creek out back, which is a GORGEOUS spot, but it’s still not a porch swing.

There’s just something about a porch with a swing and a couple of rocking chairs that causes family and friends to congregate. And talk lazily about nothing. And wave at cars driving by. And watch the weather change. And just be at ease.

I’ve been thinking about porch swings I’ve known. There was the one on the back porch of the house I grew up in. Mom would sit there and read to us in the summer. It felt special to be outside in my nightgown, fresh from a bath, tucked in beside Mom. At least once, the chains gave way, dumping us. Which is mostly funny when you’re six.

Then there was the swing at Grandma’s. It was tucked in behind a cedar at the corner of the porch–I can still smell that spice if I close my eyes. We would argue over who got to sit in the swing with Grandma and watch cars go by. She actually lived on the paved road and we might see a half dozen cars of an evening. Exciting!

Porch swing rules included:

  • Not swinging too hard or too high.
  • Not pushing your siblings in the swing (or out of it).
  • Only one person controlled the motion by pushing off the floorboards with their foot.
  • If you brought a quilt to the swing, you took it back in when you were done.
  • In the winter, the swing would be taken down and stored or raised up too high for anyone to sit (Why?? I don’t know).
  • Dad tested the chains/rope each spring to make sure the swing was safe.

One of these days we’re going to have a house with a wide front porch and a comfy swing. Until then, I’ll enjoy my memories and hope the ropes on the creekside swing we left out all winter haven’t rotted through . . .

Published by Sarah Loudin Thomas

Author, wife, child of God.

12 thoughts on “Appalachian Thursday – Porch Swings

  1. I sure can see myself sitting in that swing by the stream. What a beautiful spot. I did just spend a few days in a cabin in Pennsylvania’s state forest that has a wonderful front porch complete with swing and rocking chair. I spent a lot of time in both.

  2. Porch swings are pretty common in Kansas, at least in the small towns. My grandparents had one when I was a child. The house we lived in when my daughter was a baby had a very handy porch swing. It was one of the few ways we could calm her down when she was in one of her fussy moods. I don’t have a big enough porch at my house now to have a swing.

  3. Porch swings are still used up in New England also on Colonial and Victorian homes. We are trying to figure how to put one up on our pergola here in Missouri. Thanks for the post.

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