Are you reading this on your porch right now? I hope
I practically live on my porch in spring, summer and
fall. It is the only place I “entertain.” Anyone wonder why I never
invite them over in winter? Well, the porch is closed.
My porch is a wonderland. The first and most important
thing about it is this: It is completely screened. This is a necessity
for a porch to be enjoyed. We are in; bugs are out.
My porch is surrounded by flowering bushes: three
shades of azaleas in spring, and in summer, blue hydrangeas and then the
loveliest flowering bush I’ve ever met, the lacecap hydrangea. I can sit
here and watch the birds fly and swoop and chatter around. Hummingbirds
love the flowers. Once, very briefly, one caught its long, spike-like
snout in the screen. We were eye to eye for a few seconds there. He
looked startled and rather embarrassed. I reached over and gently pushed
his snout back out. He hummed back to the flowers.
There was a nest of baby cardinals in my hydrangea
bush this spring. It was a wonderful thing to behold. I became obsessed
with the eggs, and then the hatchlings, and then the soft feathered
babies. One day after a fierce windstorm, I looked out and the nest was
gone. I was beside myself. I never did find any evidence of a sad
disaster. I like to think the wind blew them up, up and away into their
I am always reminded of my mother while I’m on the
porch. In our big, old Victorian house on the golf course, Mom and Daddy
were out there all the time, in their wicker rocking chairs. We didn’t
screen that porch until after an errant golf ball came whirling in and
knocked Mom off her rocker. One icy, windy day, we looked outside to
watch one of the wicker rockers skating along the golf course. We never
After Daddy died, Mom bought this smaller house. It
was nice, but had a big drawback: No porch.
“I really wish I had the money to put on a porch,” Mom
sighed one day.
About a week later, a stranger called. She was looking
for Daddy. When we told her the news, she explained that she had bought
my grandparents’ house in Connecticut. (That house had a sleeping porch
that all the grandkids fought to occupy on hot summer nights.)
Mail from an insurance company kept coming to the
Connecticut house, long after my grandparents were gone. The new owner
finally opened one letter. It concerned an insurance policy Gramma had
taken out on Daddy when he ran off and joined the Navy during World War
II. She had paid a dime a week. Gramma died in 1963. The policy was long
forgotten, if anyone else even knew about it.
But now, suddenly, the insurance company was anxious
to pay off. The lady sent Mom the paperwork and she turned it in and —
voila! — There was exactly enough to put a nice, big screened porch on
our new house!
Mom and I ate our meals out there. We read out there.
We sat in our new rockers and chatted and watched the birds. We’d move
all the indoor plants out there (except for the precious African
violets) so they, too, could enjoy the warm weather.
Now, I continue the family tradition.
I eat all my meals on the porch at least seven months
a year. I read until I get drowsy, then lounge in the recliner for a
nap. On hot nights, I’ve sat out there reading by lamplight until 10 or
The table is strewn with magazines and newspapers and
mail I should have opened days or weeks ago. As October rolls around,
catalogs full of potential Christmas gifts litter the place.
When I was suddenly stricken with that awful illness
in early November 2010, my life on the porch was frozen in time.
Along about April, when I was feeling better, my
friend came over and looked out. “This porch is like a time capsule,”
she observed. Then she helped me clear it all away and prepare for
another blissful season.
As it happens, the porch overlooks yet another golf
course. And yesterday, as I sat out there relaxing,
an errant golf ball came whirring by and slammed into the screen. I
could almost hear Mom laughing.