A few mornings ago, I stepped out my front door here in Warwick Woodlands, and there was neighbor Donna talking to neighbor Anna over the porch railing. Just the sight of them gave me a pleasant little frizzon — that “electric feeling behind the navel” that informs me that something profound is speaking to me.
I’ve always loved porches. Even more than decks and patios, those other places where the indoors and outdoors meet each other. Porches open up the private space of the home to the public space of the neighborhood. When Stuart and I take an evening stroll, we often pass by neighbors reading in a rocking chair or others playing cards or sharing drinks and snacks with friends.
One of the stories I remember from our early conversations about moving here was that when Moravian Manor submitted the plans before building this village, the Lititz town council specified that the community must look like the rest of this quaint, beautiful, “cool,” small town. What are the distinguishing marks? Three things.
Tree-lined streets and sidewalks
And old-fashioned street lamps
I’m so glad that the town and the village came to an agreement on these three distinguishing characteristics. We are relishing all of them.
But especially the porches.
Our porch has a special feature. It looks directly over the bank of mailboxes. Everyone on Osprey St. comes by to insert or pick up mail every day.
So if we sit on the porch, we get to greet all the neighbors and the delivery person. We can pretend we’re at the village well.
We can pretend we are Frog and Toad.
Or as writer Cynthia Staples says,
“I have no doubt that for a long time to come, people in the South will still leave the privacy of their home for the community of their porches, for a little fresh air, a little conversation, to play with a friend or—as my younger brother and I used to do—to settle into a chair, close our eyes, and dream.”
Do you have a front porch? Have you ever had one? Does your town or city feature porches, or trees, or light posts — or something entirely different? Please share porch stories if you have them. Does “porch culture” exist where you live?