Rural Living

Porch View


by Margo Oxendine, Contributing Writer


Margo Oxendine

Are you reading this on your porch right now? I hope so.

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 first flight.

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 found it.

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 11 o’clock.

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.


Home ] Up ] Caught in the Web ] Cover Story ] Dining with Dan ] Down Home ] Editorial ] Happenings ] Reader Recipes ] [ Rural Living ] Say Cheese ]