Saturday, March 3, 2018

Ode to the Front Porch

St. Tammany families like their front porches. Years ago a front porch was the coolest place in the house, but as air conditioning became available, inside became preferable and the purpose of the porch changed. 

It became a place to ring a doorbell out of the rain, a place to wave to neighbors, a buffer zone between the intense activity of the outside world and the intense activity inside the house: a kind of refuge where you're not quite inside, but you're not quite outside either... the realm of the porch, a world unto itself.

The front porch serves as a transition zone from your home to the rest of the world.  It is your personal staging area to get ready for life beyond the railings of the porch, to where people are railing against each other. 

Here's a poem about front porches.

The Front Porch Poem
The front porch offers quiet retreat, Listening to birds in a front row seat. The porch provides a place to think, A place to ponder while worries shrink.
Shade with railings, natural view,
Openess enclosed, just for you.
Not quite inside, not quite out,
A place to sit and look about.
Sheltered from rain, buffered from heat,
A ceiling fan just can't be beat.
The front porch calls, and beckons each night,
Luring us away from tv's light.
Far you may wander, far you may roam,
It always feels good to find your way home.
To see your front porch as you come round the bend,
To stand on its floorboards before you go in.
Recalling those days you’d sit there and smile,
Finding answers to questions you had for a while.
Drinking coffee and eating cookies you crave,
And every so often to a neighbor you’d wave.
To dwell on the times your friends dropped by,
And talked for hours, making time fly.
The porch offered solace, the porch offered space,
It offered new visions for you to embrace.
The future is based on a view to the past,
Made of those memories that somehow outlast.
And many of those memories were made,
There on the porch under its shade.
Memories of gently holding hands,
The first kiss perhaps, and then making plans.
Front porch magic helps us see how,
The decisions made then affect us now.
Front porch memories never quite wane,
The peace it once offered it offers again,
Tis the place to be in the fading sunlight,
As day becomes dusk, and dusk becomes night.

The 1973 Focus
 Here's something I wrote in 1973 to memorialize the importance of taking time on the front porch. Click on the image to enlarge the view. 

Click on the images to make them larger. 

Text from the above article:

By Ron Barthet

It's a quiet afternoon on the front porch. The rain during dinner soaked the leaves. The air is still. People pass by, solemn faced. They don't stop to talk like they used to. Used to be a front porch was a great place to talk, a great place to think, a great place to watch the world go by. 

Now the weather beaten flooring splinters up through the battleship gray paint, and the whitewashed railing flakes in the wind. A neighborhood dog, stranger to no one, comes up for a gentle stroke on the head, then lies down on the porch, its eyes closed, soaking up the serenity. Meanwhile the neighborhood cat sits high upon the railing, licking its paws fresh from a dinner of leftovers. The day is far from over; many people still have many things to do. But on the front porch there is a feeling of calm. It is an island of tranquility anchored in a sea of activity. The front porch maintains its welcome....

A sign on the porch of the Blent Juice Bar in Mandeville