Front porch life

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, June 1, 2016

“Life Outside Four Walls” doesn’t have to involve a deep trek into the wild, it can be as close as going through four inches of wall space.

I heard it said very recently, I believe by an architect if I remember correctly, that homes used to be designed with the front porch as one of the main focal points of the house. They were spacious and inviting, and now, the back porch facing away front the street or road with a private backyard has taken its place. The front is simply for passage to and from the home. The person went on to say how this was a reflection of our modern day way of life — private, withdrawn, disengaged.

I hadn’t thought about it till he said that, but how true it seems. Growing up, we spent most of our evenings outside (we had an apple tree instead of a porch for shade), waving at the handful of cars that passed by and then hearing dad fuss about all the dust they stirred up. It seems “front porch life” was an everyday occurrence. Maybe it was because Lawrence Welk and Hee Haw were prime time TV, but more than likely communities used to be just that, communities.

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We lived on a rarely travelled dirt road, and it wasn’t uncommon for folks to stop and park in the road and come up and sit for a spell. Sure, there were some rather boring conversations to a kid about who was related to who, but for the most part, it was something enjoyed, you were glad to have company.

I’m by no means against technology — I have a computer, smart phone, and Facebook account and I enjoy them all — but moderation is a good thing. As one of my wise Sunday school teachers used to say “life takes balance.” How true.

I have thought much about the world my daughter will be growing up in. I am not bothered in the least that my 5-year-old can use a smart phone rather extensively, but I am a little concerned about how social media is “replacing” community, neighbors and family members.

We recently had the trees cut (oops, I meant harvested) between our house and the road, and I’ve noticed that any free moments I get I enjoy setting on the porch watching cars go by, watching the lightning bugs light up the field, looking at the vastness of the night sky, and talking to my mom who stops by now and then for a “porch visit.” I think she misses the front porch visits as much as I do.

Do I expect the number of new homes with an inviting front porch to skyrocket due to my column? No, not really, but some wise words from a man that has since passed away seems to have found a lodging place in my mind: “Never underestimate the power of the pen.” So I hope you will make opportunities, and take time to visit, maybe someone who can’t get out, or someone you haven’t seen for a while, or even have supper on the porch with family and no phones, TV’s etc.

We, myself included, may feel like we haven’t got the time, but something I’ve noticed, God has given everyone the same amount of time each day, no one gets more than the other, it’s what we choose to do with that time, and we will make time for what we truly want to do.