"Porches are as synonymous with American culture as apple pie. While not unknown in Colonial Times, they rose to nationwide popularity in the decades before the Civil War, and remained in fashion for almost 100 years." – from "Preserving Porches" By Renee Kahn.
I love porches. I have warm memories from my youth of sitting on our front porch with my mom, each of us reading a book. At other times, we sat together snapping fresh picked green beans, or pitting cherries or cleaning tomatoes – all of which my mother would can, filling basement shelves with glass Ball jars, stuffed full of garden-fresh color.
My grandma’s house had a large, screened-in front porch where I loved visiting with her as the summer afternoon breezed through.
So when we built our home, we designed a wide porch that wraps itself around three sides of the house. We painted the deck marine gray, and spent hours hand-painting the railings and balusters white, adding and old-fashioned elegance to our home.
Even though porches are not so popular today, they traditionally formed the transition space between the home proper and the surrounding nature outside. A porch, with its swing or rocking chair, has always been a welcoming place of ease and comfort.
People who study such things say that porches went out of style when automobiles took over America, sending folks indoors to get away from the noise and smelly exhaust.
But we have no street running in front of our house. No sounds of cars or trucks intrude on our little corner of Paradise. Our porch looks out on miles and miles of undulating hills dotted with dark green oaks.
I have such happy memories of summer parties on our porch, with friends sitting around talking and laughing while drinks chilled in tubs of ice and birds sang from nearby branches. In the background, the foothills rippled off into the Sierra Nevada distance.
Even in the winter, Sweetheart Al and I have bundled up and sat on our porch with mugs of steaming coffee, as winter storms barreled through gusting and raining and hailing. From our porch, we’ve watched lightning storms flash over the mountains. And on lazy summer afternoons, we’ve watched the local buzzards sail in wide circles far overhead.
But humans aren’t the only ones who have enjoyed our porch.
Yesterday, when I drove up to the house, a young doe resting under the porch leapt to her feet and bolted out and down the hill.
The cool shade under our porch has sheltered many a deer over the years we’ve lived here. Last summer I was privileged to see twin fawns hiding under the porch.
When our house sells, we’ll move to a porchless urban home. Along with our dishes and furniture and books, we’ll be taking our happy porch memories with us.
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