Note: This was written when we lived in Georgia, in my two-story house with a wrap-around porch. We've since moved to South Carolina, and my one-story house here has an amazing covered back porch which I love as much as I loved the front porch in my Georgia house. But I found this in some old writing and decided it was still post-worthy.
|Me, on my front porch, the day we bought the house.|
I use my front porch as an extra room, one I don’t have to dust and mop but once or twice a year. I’ve thought about making the entire house into a porch for that very reason, but then December rolls around and I remember why that’s a bad idea.
My favorite thing in the world is to take a cup of hot coffee out there on a warm spring morning, in the hairdo my pillow created, and wearing flannel pajama pants and a T-shirt. The neighbors pretend not to see my morning get-ups—Valerie’s Secret is nothing like Victoria’s—and I pretend not to notice all the far more annoying things they do every day of my life. I sit out there reading, writing, daydreaming about a world with working leash laws, wishing every day were Saturday. My husband thinks it’s strange that I’ll sit on a porch looking at the outdoor world but never feel the need to step into it and say, mow the lawn or pull weeds. I figure it’s like the TV—he’s happy to watch it 24/7, but dust it? Ha.
My front porch could be the closest place to heaven I’ve ever been—if it weren’t for the bugs. I sat out there on my wicker rocker one evening, candles placed strategically around me on the table, porch rail and floor. Fly swatter in defense mode, I dared bugs to approach through fire and the dread cloud of citronella. Before each sip of tea, I peered into my glass for suicides.
My son-in-law, who lived with us at the time, peeked out the front door. “Ring of Death?” he asked.
“The bugs can have everything beyond the candles.” I swung my arm around in an arc. “I’ve declared this my personal, bug-free zone.”
“Okay," he said. "The rest of us will be on the other side of the window screens.”
Sometimes I serve supper on the porch, dragging food, dishes, cutlery, beverages, and my husband outside, to fight critters for the hamburgers and potato salad. A neighbor said, “I see you two out there having supper in the candlelight. It’s nice that you still do such romantic things after all these years.”
I didn’t tell her that the candles were the bug-killing kind, and my husband accompanied me only because I had hauled all the food out there. Why ruin a hot reputation?
In Michigan, where I grew up, mosquitoes go into a feeding frenzy at dusk and continue buzzing your ears all night. Anyone with sense retreats inside at the first bzzz. One evening my sister and I sat on my Southern front porch talking and laughing about something—our husbands, probably.
Suddenly she sat straight up. “It’s dark!”
“You’re scared of the dark?” I asked. At last, I thought. Something in common. She’s thin, artistic and runs for exercise. I love her anyway, but it would be nice to share something besides a tendency to snort when we laugh.
“No," she said. "It’s dark, but the mosquitoes never came out!”
“We don’t get many mosquitoes,” I explained. “Moths, June-bugs, scorpions, lightning bugs, spiders, ants, and some really scary things that like to get lost in my hair, but not many mosquitoes.”
My husband’s favorite thing in life is to walk along the ocean. He told me that when he dies he wants to be cremated, with his ashes sprinkled on the beach.
I couldn’t come up with any place I loved that much. I asked, “Where do I want my ashes?”
He knew immediately. “In a wicker box on the front porch.”
When I was diagnosed with cancer (don't panic--it was years ago and I'm still here), a good friend had trouble talking about my illness. But when I came home from the hospital after surgery I discovered that she’d decorated my front porch with magazines, flowers, wicker magazine rack, and an iced tea set with tray. A card said, “I know you’ll be spending lots of time out here as you recuperate and go through chemo, and I wanted it to be nice.”
She didn’t even have to sign it, “Love, Sherry.” I could see the love all over the porch.