Chicks, Ice Cream, and the Back Porch
Porches are the iconic architectural elements of summer and community. Historically, front porches were used to invite the community into your personal space. Back porches were used as private spaces for family only. We invite people onto our porches that we don’t necessarily invite into our homes. Over the years, Americans have gradually changed from the open policy front porches to more private back porches and decks. No matter if you have a front porch, a stoop, a back porch or a deck, they encourage a slight change in attitude. Once the door to the house shuts, changes occur, relaxation begins. It is difficult to be formal on a porch with a cat rubbing up and down your leg or the swing creaking back and forth.
When we moved from Texas to West Virginia we bought the house that had a porch. After a whirlwind real estate trip to find a place to live, one of my sisters asked, “Did you even go in the house?” Honestly, I did but all I remembered was the land and the porches. Our front porch is way up high and looks back down the driveway. It has a rail that encourages all kinds of vines to crawl up and decorate. While it is nice, no one yet has rung the bell on the front porch. The back porch is where we live. The UPS guy comes around back. Surrounded by windows that open, we can view the pond, watch the deer, and scream at the kids. I meant to say that we encourage the kids from a distance!
One of my earliest memories is of sleeping “outside” on my grandmother’s porch. She had small, white, iron beds with lumpy mattresses. We would pull the quilts up and listen to the outside noises. In the summer, we listened to the old folks talk as we drifted off to sleep.
At momma and daddy’s house we shelled peas on the porch, snapped beans on the porch, shucked corn, discussed church, were reminded about good manners and anything else my mother could think of to do on the porch. It was our family room. When I joined my husband’s family, they had a white swing on their back porch. We spent many an hour out there drinking coffee and planning our life together. We were all of 18 and 19 years old, so that swing was important to our future.
We have always had a porch for our own kids. I like to make my ice cream out on the porch. If it drips, no problem. We swing as the motor cranks along and discuss all kinds of life situations. It is a slower pace and usually one of the younger ones will drift into sleep as the swing creaks back and forth to the rhythm of the motor. In a way our porch is the measure of our family life.
Nineteen new baby chickens. On the porch, in a box, with a light.
New momma cat. On the porch, in a box, no light.
New Puppies. Hurt tom cat. Guinea keets. Skinned knees. On the porch.
Baby anything. On the porch, in a box. Light optional.
Making ice cream. On the porch, perched on the swing.
Family meeting. On the porch, in the wicker chairs.
Interesting lizards and snakes. NOT ALLOWED on the porch.
Watermelon fest. On the porch. Hose off afterwards.
Shelling peas and snapping beans. On the porch.
Church party. On the porch. Party string lights on.
Grand dad’s fishing lure school. On the porch. Watch those hooks!
Private talks about behavior. Wicker chairs. No lights.
Birthday parties. On the porch. Hose off kids and party goo.
Crazy painting schemes. On the porch.
Swimming towels. Hung on the porch.
As summer comes full swing, I hope everyone takes the time to go out to their porch and relax for a few minutes. Sip on a glass of ice tea and listen to the kids or grandkids tell about their day. Make some ice cream and share the stories you remember about the porches and people in your life.