View from the porch

Published 9:40 am Thursday, August 27, 2015

No matter what the day brings, cats enjoy the view from the porch.

No matter what the day brings, cats enjoy the view from the porch.

Porches are making a comeback — and not a moment too soon!

Fifty years ago, a house without a porch was like a ten-story building without an elevator. You might visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.

In those days, I might add, every house had a porch.

Email newsletter signup

I’ve always wanted a porch, so when we built our house at Elam we did the next best thing and added two decks. It soon became obvious that we weren’t the only ones enjoying the scenery. We were bugged —summer, spring, and fall — by an assortment of gnats, mosquitoes, and biting flies. In the winter when it was too cold for bugs, it was too cold for us, too.

So we were obliged to enjoy the view from inside.

A few years ago, I convinced my spouse that we needed a sunroom. A three-season room (actually four with addition of a space heater), our “porch” provides a bug-free haven with spectacular views of the woods and creatures inhabiting it.

Right away, our nightly visitors became part of the family.

“Bullwinkle’s here,” my spouse nodded toward the apple trees as a young buck with fuzzy antlers stepped out of the woods. Further down the hill, Bambi kept a watchful eye on two babies frolicking in the cool of the evening.

As darkness descended, an owl glided silently through the shadows, while over the hill a family of foxes set off for a night of hunting. Their yipping barks, echoing through the still evening air, were no cause since the hens were safely tucked in for the night.

Inside the porch more animals were stirring. A row of tail-twitching housecats lined the glass panels extending from floor to ceiling. The feline world, like ours, has expanded.

Sipping coffee as the sun dropped below the tree line, my spouse and I felt the day winding down.

A breath of cool air drifting through the screens (sans bugs) set the cats’ whiskers to twitching.

“My grandmother would have loved this porch,” I observed.

As conversation ebbed into companionable silence, I drifted into the past with its host of porch-sitting memories.

Like many of the era, my grandmother’s porch was designed for practical purposes. In the days before air conditioning it was a place to escape the heat of a steamy kitchen. On summer afternoons when the heat shimmered across the fields and clung to the skin like a wet flannel sheet, the porch was the only place to be. As my grandmother often observed, it always seems cooler on the porch.

No matter the chore, the porch was in tune with the rhythm of the day. As we readied garden beans or corn for the canner, we snapped and shucked to the putt-putt beat of a tractor working the back field, the symphony of hens clucking in their house or the throaty bleat of a mother cow warning her offspring of some imminent bovine danger.

Our porch brought the world of nature up close and personal — and we had front row seats.

On misty mornings the porch was studded with diamonds that sparkled on the screens as well as the web of a resident porch spider. On clear mornings, we watched clouds join ranks and march across the sky with the precision of a circus parade, while rainy days brought gray-bottomed clouds that clustered on the horizon like dirty white hens.

No matter the season, we were there to see it.

Once, after a summer storm, a rainbow flashed across the sky.

“How do you find the rainbow’s end?” I asked my grandmother.

“You’ll know when you find it,” she said.

I didn’t understand then, but now I do.

Older and wiser, I know that life’s treasures, like that pot of gold at rainbow’s end, tend to come on the installment plan. Moment by golden moment, memories of each passing season add to the balance.

What better place to count them than on a porch?

Yes, I come from a long line of porch sitters.

It’s good to be back.

Marge Swayne is lifestyles editor for The Farmville Herald. Her email address is