Recently, we have been spending a bit more time on the front porch instead of always on the back deck. Have you noticed how some people are all about one or the other but not so much both? We have noticed a trend and it got me thinking about just why we nest in these different ways. The porch is a place of meditation and the scene of drama, conflict and nostalgia. National Public Radio presented a series on the topic in 2008. I've looked for the link but it seems no longer available. Please let me know if you find it.
The official slogan for the National Porch Sitters, yes there is one, is “Sit down a spell. That can wait.” Many people paint the ceilings to their porch a blue or periwinkle to use color to cool the space down. I grew up more of a backyard girl and thus am convinced that it makes me more of a back patio or deck person. Our garden is in the back and we like to sit and look at it. The back is for long talks with friends and for solitude and for meditation. The front is for gossip and nosy neighbor time. However I do sit there in the morning sometimes to write and our dog likes that time of the day most of all.
In one of the NPR stories we meet Douglas Kelbaugh, professor of urban planning and dean of the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. He is a proponent of New Urbanism — and of porches. In a world highly mediated by technology, face-to-face, Kelbaugh says that live interaction between people is “important glue in building community and sustaining it.” Porches help facilitate these exchanges. Also featured in the series is a book titled Out on the Porch, a slim picture book that collects photographs and memorable literary passages about porches by authors. The book, published originally in 1992, proved so popular that it’s still in print and has led to an annual porch calendar.
I believe part of living an artful life includes the discovery of your preference to front porches or back patios/decks. Understanding what both places are to you and why they are important to you, or not important to you, may tell you quite a bit about yourself. What of that space between indoors and outdoors do you find significant to you? As the weather changes our yards become welcoming again its time to come out and enjoy the conversation!