The house we live in has the sorriest excuse for a front porch. But it’s still a porch and I’ll take it. Because a need to sit on the front porch is embedded in my genetic material.
Porch sitting is simply a way of life in the mountains. It’s for work, for socializing, for relaxing, and for keeping an eye on the neighborhood. Characters in my novels do all kinds of things on porches–cry over men, talk about weddings, wait for family, digest meals. I hadn’t really thought about it until now, but porches show up in all three books.
Here are a few of the things we did on the porch when I was growing up:
- Watched storms roll in. I would sit under Dad’s lawn chair, because that was the safest place. Once, we saw a lightning strike bring power lines down on a barbed wire fence. Spectacular.
- Processed various harvests. We shucked corn, snapped beans, pared apples, shelled peas–oh, and skinned out squirrels. This was more cool than gross when I was six. Times, they do change!
- Made ice cream. The hand-cranked ice cream maker sat on the edge of the porch so salt water could run out the little spout onto the ground below. We ate the finished treat right there on the porch.
- Read stories in the swing. Mom would wash us and gather us up in the porch swing in our pajamas for a bedtime story. There was something about being outside after a bath that made it seem extra special.
- Talked. We talked and talked and told stories and talked some more. Deer would stroll through the pasture and lightning bugs would come out. Peepers would sing in the spring and owls would hoot after dark. And still we talked.
I could go on. Pets lived on the porch. Wild animals lived under the porch (including at least one skunk). The porch light served as a beacon of welcome. Once, we slept on the porch.
Now, my husband and I will take a glass of wine out after dinner to sit on our skinny little excuse for a porch and enjoy some lazy talk. No serious topics, no important decisions, just chat. Because porches bring that out–that desire to idly talk about nothing in particular. At peace and in communion.
Probably, if we could get the people we don’t see eye-to-eye with to sit with us on a porch with a glass of lemonade, we’d learn that we have a lot more in common than we ever realized. Just don’t disturb the bird nesting in that hanging basket. The eggs should hatch any day now.