We have a long porch running the length of our house. This summer, my husband and I used it to snap beans for canning. I confess we use it less than we should.
When the grandsons come, they run races on it, blow bubbles from the sides and practice casting fishing rods. And of course, they love the porch swing, which still fits all five. I fancy some of the grandsons someday having slumber parties out there, once they get old enough.
On vacation together this summer, the final morning of our stay at a cabin near a lake, all five of them plopped themselves on the cabin’s porch swing. The grown-ups all grabbed for their phones. I know the porch and swing at our house will figure strong in their grandma and grandpa memories.
I grew up with a porch on our farm in Indiana and loved everything about it except for cleaning it each summer: the banisters, the white siding behind our swing, the windows. On the porch swing we’d wait for the bus to appear before heading 25 feet to the road. Before my next oldest sister went to school, she sat on that swing desperately trying to pronounce her middle name, Marie, thinking she would have to give her full name to the teachers, or someone. She cried because she simply couldn’t quite say it right.
On another morning when we were waiting on the bus, I was late coming out the door, down the steps, and up the steps of Bus No. 3. (If you rode a bus, do you remember the number of the bus and driver?) Tobe was our driver. I stumbled on my way up the bus steps that day and fell hard, chipping a front tooth. A forever souvenir from Bus 3 and a frequent reminder not to rush going up steps.
When our cousins came to visit us, we would play “Seven Steps Around the House” after dark — frightening each other silly — and used the porch as home base.
On rainy evenings my husband and I love to sit on the porch and listen to the rain pour down, something we didn’t hear a lot of this summer until hurricane season in late August and September.
I got the idea to write about this from a blogger friend and former president of Goshen College Shirley Showalter. In her blog post “Porch Culture,” she sings the praises of a wonderful new or old porch (shirleyshowalter.com).
Not long after I read her rhapsody on front porches, I was walking in a neighborhood near our church where a friend and I exercise frequently. A woman was sitting on her porch, mid-morning on a fairly warm day. When I later circled back by the same house, I saw an older woman getting out of her car there and I fancied that they were having a little morning get together. Porches are good for things like that, especially amidst this pandemic that seems to be making another unwelcome push through our cities and countrysides.
A lifelong friend and work colleague, James Krabill, shared this gem recently on Facebook: “A family visit to Maplewood, New Jersey, introduced us to the “Porch Fest” — an annual Labor Day Weekend celebration during which dozens of musicians from all over town set up shop on their own front porches and perform. Residents roam the streets, popping in on their favorite music venues. This is a super cool idea that needs to be tried in a few other locations I can think of.” James is an amazing musician himself and I have no doubt he’ll get it going in his community.
Some have observed “International Play Music on the Porch Day” on the last Saturday in August since 2017.
Start practicing for next year!
Or, share your porch stories and memories! Send to email@example.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.