Daily Archives: September 26, 2014

The Art of Porch Sitting

We had a porch when I was growing up.  A big porch that wrapped all around the front of the house.  We roller skated on that porch with skates you needed a key in order to fasten them onto your shoes.

I would swing on the porch swing while reading library books.  All the lazy Summer afternoon.  Back and forth.  Turn a page.  Back and forth.  Turn a page.

I would sit on the porch swing with my girlfriend eating suckers and kicking the swing higher and higher.  Sometimes my brothers would swing me so high I could touch the porch ceiling with my feet.  We lived dangerously!

Back when I was growing up right after Christopher Columbus discovered America, most of the houses in our small town had front porches.  David’s grandfather would sit out on his front porch at night and if my mother and I would drive by their house, all we could see was the light from his cigar as he sat in his rocking chair smoking and rocking.  “There’s Mr. Henley,”  my mother would say and all I could see was the ember from his cigar.  Somehow that was comforting to me.  To know Mr. Henley was sitting on his porch on a warm Summer’s evening enjoying his last cigar of the day.  All was well with the world.  One day Mr. Henley would become my grandfather-in-law.

On long Summer evenings, my mother, aunt and I and sometimes my sister, who lived down the road would sit out on our porch and I would swing while they sat in the glider and talked. The dogs would lay at our feet seeming to enjoy the company.   Sometimes we children would be playing hide and seek or kick the can while the adults talked.   Back then there was talk of flying saucers and every once in a while my mother would say she saw one and we would look at what was probably an air plane flying across the sky.  It would send shivers down my spine anyway.  Once a bat flew above our heads as we sat on the porch and we all would scream each time it would pass overhead.

David’s grandma sat on her front porch and watched the world go by.  She knew everything that was happening on her street.  People would walk by and say hello and sometimes stop in to talk.

Porch sitting is becoming a lost art.  Too many of the newer homes don’t even have a porch.  Just a little stoop or entryway, but nowhere to sit and wile away the hours.  People are too busy to porch sit, it seems.  I want porch sitting to come back.  You see your neighbors out in their yards, mowing the lawn and you smell the new mown grass.  You see the cars going by,  the train chugging down the track, the mailman bringing your mail, and the occasional fire truck or ambulance going to help someone.  Perhaps you would see a mother walking her baby, or a runner practicing for a marathon,  a child learning to ride his bicycle for the very first time or flowers being delivered to you.  I have seen all these from my front porch.

Sometimes you even see something you would hope you never see.  An accident.  One day years ago, a man ran into a tree in the front yard of our neighbor’s yard and I ran to call an ambulance.  Before we knew it there were twenty-three police cars(we counted them) and three ambulances in front of our house.  My children watched it all as they got the man out of the car and into the ambulance.  I watched from our front porch.  I never found out what happened to the man.  I hope he was all right.

One hot summer day as I sat on our porch I saw a raccoon on the road in front of our house acting like it was drunk. Cars swerved to miss it and then they began to stop.  I think the raccoon was rabid.  I kept the children inside.  Someone came from animal control and took it away.  Oh, yes, porch sitting can become intense at times.

David and I have been doing a lot of porch sitting this Summer.  Our new front porch is made for sitting and watching.  We watch the hummingbirds feed, a bird building her nest, the trucks going over the railroad tracks.  We watch friends and family pull into the drive for a visit.   We watch when they leave and sit and talk about our visit.  You don’t have to do anything special to learn to porch sit.  Just sit on a chair, a swing, a rocker or whatever you have to sit on and start to pay attention to the world around you.  It’s pretty amazing what you will see.  The people you might meet.  The friendships you might cement.  Give it a try.  Bye.