Today’s weather is calling for lots of front porch with scattered feet up. There is also a high probability of localized snacking.
A few months ago, when the perfect-size plastic Adirondack chairs were on sale, I sent Hubby to the store with the van to purchase four for our porch. Sure, it was blazing hot out at the time. Much of our socializing was happening in the cool respite of air-conditioned venues. But I had a need to be prepared for the better part of six months a year when the weather is perfect for sitting outside.
Until we purchased the new chairs, our porch was adorned with two old chairs. But we always had more than two people congregated outside our door, therefore, we needed more chairs. The four new chairs weren’t quite enough. We had to retrieve the two old ones from their retirement location on the side of the house to accommodate a growing crowd.
I absolutely love our porch. From it, we are able to view one of the best shows around—the rising moon. Clouds, moonlight, the line of treetops across the street, birds and more play dramatic roles in each show. And there are never any reruns on this particular channel.
The sound system on our porch is also incredible. From bird songs to cricket chirps to engines as they slow and pull into our driveway, we are privy to a personal, dynamic, daily concert.
Porch sitting is not restricted to beautiful autumn evenings. Sipping tea while waving to children as they walk to and from school is a wonderful way to stay connected to the neighborhood. When my youngest was in elementary school, I would grab my mug of chamomile and head outside a few minutes before the buses were due. Seeing his bright face as he stepped off the school bus was one of the highlights of my day.
Daylight also makes it easier to critique one’s yard. It is while sitting on the porch I am able to view the imperfections and create a list of items that need attention. The rain has been great for our newly planted blueberry bushes, but it has also caused the emergence of mushroom crops. I’ve also noticed we’re behind on weeding the flower beds and the grass is in need of a trim. While Hubby is at it, the bushes could use a manicure.
We are not the only ones in the neighborhood with a porch. A few houses down, we have neighbors with a rocker-lined porch. Moving farther down the street onto the next block, we have neighbors who furnished their roomy porch with tables and chairs. Should any of us need more company or a change of scenery, we can simply take a short stroll and enjoy life from a neighboring porch.
Years ago, during one of life’s transitions, I had to rent a porchless house. Included on the list of things I had to temporarily give up were cable television, my car phone—which indicates the time period was quite some time ago—and retail shopping. But giving up a porch was by far the most difficult adjustment.
With the exception of the transitional rental, every home I’ve lived in has had an acceptable outdoor seating area near the main entrance. I was born and raised a porch person. Stoops people are OK, but they aren’t as social. Stoops aren’t as comfortable and don’t lend themselves to good eye contact. Also, stoop people have nowhere to set up a snack table.
While I am accepting of stoop people, I admit to being wary of non-porch people. Those without a porch or even a set of stoops on which to gather make me uneasy. Where do they go to relax and catch the moonrise or sunset? Where do they sip their herbal tea? Most importantly, how do they nonchalantly snoop on the goings on of the neighborhood?
While you might think it rude of me to place importance on being knowledgeable regarding neighborhood activities, it’s actually good to be a little nosy. Should I get out the binoculars and peep into my neighbors’ windows? Of course not. But we should all be keenly aware of neighborhood routines so suspicious activity is obvious and can be reported.
Non-porch people are also vulnerable to pet piles being left in their yard. Dog walkers are much less likely to let their pets relieve themselves on my lawn when I’m sitting in my Adirondack chair waving, saying hello and making eye contact.
I feel compelled to try to convert non-porch people. I’m not suggesting those of you without porches move or build a porch. Rather, simply set up a chair or two in the front yard.
Once you have the chairs in place, set aside a few minutes a day to sit and relax. Before long, you’ll want to spend more than a few minutes. Soon, your friends and neighbors will start joining you. In no time, you’ll be looking forward to lots of front yard with scattered feet up with a bit of localized snacking.
Micki Bare is a columnist for the Arkansas News Bureau and the Courier-Tribune in Asheboro, N.C., and author of "Thurston T. Turtle Moves to Hubbleville." She lives in Asheboro with her husband, three children and mother. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org