Grit Blogs > Of Mice and Mountain Men

A Right Fine Settin' Porch

There are few things I find more enjoyable than sitting on a proper porch with my beloved and a glass of cold lemonade on a warm summer evening.

Sunset

This evening is one such. Temperatures during the day had gotten up into the mid 80s, but as the sun slides down behind English Mountain across the valley from us the temperature eases. The sky splashed with pink, rose, mauve and vermillion slowly deepens into amethyst, violet and plum. A few bright stars burn through the gauzy haze of high, thin clouds which provide a canvass for the setting sun to paint upon. To the south the multiple ridges of the Great Smoky Mountains slowly disappear into the dusk.

A Chuck Wills Widow sits in the top of a tree across the hard-road, a hundred feet or so downhill from us, and serenades us with his gentle melody. Crickets chip, cicadas thrum, tree frogs trill.  A flying beetle thumps determinedly against the glass of the porch light. It looks like a June bug, but it’s the wrong time for June bugs, unless he’s a confused June bug. I switch the light off to save him from endangering his well being (and annoying us) and so we can get a clearer view now that the sky is dark.

Front porch

It occurs to me that too many people have lost the art of porch settin’. Many newer homes have no porch to sit on – just a sort of stoop. I suppose one could sit on the step of the stoop, but that’s not the same.  So they seal themselves inside with their air conditioning and televisions and miss the best show around.  A proper porch is a comfortable refuge even in a light rain; though we have no rain tonight.  No, tonight is a perfect porch settn’ night. Warm enough that an icy glass of lemonade is refreshing, cool enough to be comfortable, a light breeze to keep the gnats and skeeters away, and a utopian peacefulness to the sounds of the evening.

When the wind blows the right direction, the singing tires of 18-wheelers on Interstate 40 will traverse the 4 miles separating them from us and invade the natural sounds we enjoy so much more. But that is not the case tonight; tonight we could be a thousand miles away from anyone.

We sit in our new folding wooden porch chairs.  Building a pair of hickory rocking chairs for the porch has been on my To Do list for quite a while – and I’m getting closer to that, but not fast enough – so Marie bought a pair of wooden porch chairs that fold up. These can easily be moved out of the way if we need more room or when we’re cleaning the porch. The folding chairs really do make more sense for us than rockers anyway; our porch is not a sweeping veranda, just a cozy spot for the two of us to enjoy our view. I guess I can scratch those rockers off the To Do list.  I did built a firewood box that doubles as a table from some 100 year old reclaimed old white oak lumber.

Drowsiness eventually overtakes us and we go inside to get ready for bed. It’s been a long hard day and this respite was the perfect prelude to a restful night of sleep. Just one of the many reasons we enjoy living here in the mountains. It’s a great place for porch settin’.

Thanks for reading and may the best laid plans be yours.

sheree
12/1/2010 1:39:35 AM

We just bought a 90 yr old farm house in IL. The Bungalo style home has a front porch! When I show friends photos of the house, that is the one thing that they think is fantastic. I can't wait until the spring when the family learns how to relax and learn about "porch time."


allan douglas
10/8/2010 2:45:23 PM

Hi Robert, thanks for stopping in to read - and for taking the time to comment. Ah, yes, the good old days of neighbors sitting on the front porch in the evenings and visiting. Young folks don't know what they're missing. Somehow iPhones just don't have the same feeling! Good luck with the new basement/porch project, I hope it goes well and completes quickly so you too may get back to enjoying this simple pleasure.


robert peskey
10/8/2010 12:11:29 PM

I grew up in the times when every home had a porch, and well remember the nights of makeing ice cream, visting with neighbors,friends,family,and just setting outside taking in all of the sights and sounds. When we add a new basement to our home, we have made provisons to return to a"Front porch" again.


allan douglas
10/5/2010 6:25:25 AM

Hello Cindy, I think you have the right idea; a few moments of solitude now and again is a healthy way to maintain your balance through the more hectic parts of your day. And the peace of a good front porch - especially if it connects to natural elements - is a great way to vent off excess stress and cares. Thanks so much for stopping in and sharing your story.


cindy murphy
10/4/2010 7:04:53 AM

Great post, Allan. You've got a lovely porch. Porch sitting is a topic near and dear to my heart. I LOVE my front porch! In a discussion with a couple of friends recently, the subject 'what is the best part of a home?' came up. Most people said the kitchen, for obvious reasons. Although the kitchen is a great place to be, my favorite place is our front porch. The first thing I do in the morning is go out on the porch with a cup of coffee and watch my corner of the world wake up, and the first thing I do when I get home from work is meet Hubs out there - just for 10 minutes or so of wind-down time before the after work/after school dinner/homework with the girls/chore routine starts. Some might say I spend an inordinate amount of time on our porch. All year round, even in the dead of winter (and winter in Michigan is not exactly porch-sittin' season), I can be found on the porch watching the birds, the sun, the moon, and the world in general just outside my front door. Enjoy your day. Cindy


allan douglas
10/2/2010 1:26:13 PM

Hi NE Dave, thank you for the kind words and description of your alternative. Sounds like it should work well. It's funny I should find your comment just now... I was on my way to read your blog - congrats on the blurb in the magazine. I'll be dropping in for a visit in just a bit!


nebraska dave
10/1/2010 12:00:55 PM

@Alan, your description of the porch sittin’ was fantastic. I live in an urban area of a big city in Nebraska. You are correct that houses are not build with porches or they are built with what I call a decoration porch that’s of no use other than looks. I built a front patio with retaining wall to provide a nice area for container flowers. A nice sitting bench completes the sanctuary area. A full view of the street provides the entertainment of watching neighbors come and go with an additional perk of viewing the kids playing in the near by area. A good cup of coffee completes the whole relaxing moment. I’ve enjoyed many hours of enjoyment sitting and watching from this patio for the last two years. There’s something about contemplating the day’s activities over a hot cup of coffee from the patio or porch don’t you think? Some day I’ll have a backyard covered deck to enjoy sitting outside to enjoy the rain falling. That’s another enjoyable thing for me. The sound, feel, and smell of a good spring rain refreshes not only the soil but my soul as well. Have a great porch sitting day.


allan douglas
10/1/2010 11:13:45 AM

I could not agree with your more, Arthur! Having done both (city and rural) I know for sure I like this best. My wife was born, raised and lived in the city until I married her and we moved out here. Even she says wild horses could not drag her back to city life. Hang onto tha dream, it's not too late!


arthur hill
10/1/2010 7:58:48 AM

I sure do mis the country way of life.I am a single 60 years young redneck and I am sick of the city crap.goina find me a country gal someday and head for the hills for the remainder of my time here on earth.My father and mother were farmers and the life was wholesome, hard work,the farm people are great and like hank williams says A COUNTRY BOY CAN SURVIVE!