The Porch

In a recent post I admitted to having cottage envy. I also have porch envy. I gather images of porches to paint – porches with rocking chairs, railings, sunshine, shadows, and welcoming front doors.

"Green Rocking Chairs," Carol Crump Bryner, oil on canvas, 2009

“Green Rocking Chairs,” Carol Crump Bryner, oil on canvas, 2009

"White Chair in South Light," Carol Crump Bryner, oil on canvas, 2009

“White Chair in South Light,” Carol Crump Bryner, oil on canvas, 2009

The house I grew up in – the little red house on East Center Street in Wallingford, Connecticut – had more of a “stoop” than a porch, and there’s nothing wrong with a stoop. I’m a diehard stoop-sitter, and enjoy being perched on the front steps watching the world go by and feeling the sun on my face.

But the porch on the farmhouse was similar to what Alaskans call an “Arctic Entry.” It was an extra layer of protection between inside and outside.

Until the late 1920’s the farmhouse was porch-less.

Hall Farmhouse around 1910

Hall Farmhouse around 1910

And then the twins were born. My practical grandmother, who by 1927 had five children and an endless stream of dogs and cats and chickens and visitors, must have decided she needed an extra room. She had a cement floor poured and a large screened porch built to wrap around the outside of the kitchen, dining room, and living room walls.

Hall Farmhouse around 1945

Hall Farmhouse around 1945

I never knew the farmhouse without this big room. The porch had none of the romance one associates with a New England porch – no rocking chairs, no steps, no carefully turned railings or pillars. The floor was painted green and covered with an assortment of chairs, toys, tools, boots, coats, dog dishes, and flowerpots. At one end was an old davenport draped with a mangy black horsehide. But at the other end was the best part of the porch. Just outside the kitchen door hung a big wooden slat swing, also painted green. My grandparents and great-grandfather sat on it in summer to husk corn, swat flies, and stay cool. It was the perfect spot for greeting or saying goodbye to visitors. When the house burned in 1971, someone rescued the swing. For many years it lived with one of my cousins, but now it’s back on Whirlwind Hill, waiting to be restored and hung in a new place for sitting, swinging, and remembering.

"Porch Swing," Carol Crump Bryner, gouache, 2013

“Porch Swing,” Carol Crump Bryner, gouache, 2013

On Wednesday:  Outbuildings #1 – The Silo


4 thoughts on “The Porch

  1. Michael Foster

    Carol, those paintings are truly wonderful! The light and shadow are exquisite. What a smart woman your grandmother was for creating such a great space for family and guests, and then making the time to use it.

    1. Carol Post author

      Thanks, Mike. And I’m so glad you will read the blog to your mom. I sure miss having your parents “on the hill.” when I take my walks around the block there.

  2. Anne Foster


    Mike has offered to read your blog to me and to type responses. I will be going back to earlier posts in the future to enjoy your tales and to share some of my memories.

    It is such great fun to hear about the history of the farm house and how it changed over the years. It caught my attention to hear you describe the piece of furniture as a “davenport”. I grew up using that term all the time in Portland , Oregon, but rarely heard it when I came east. Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful memories and your truly beautiful paintings. Are the green chairs sitting on the Madison porch?

    Anne Foster

    1. Carol Post author

      Hi Anne!
      So great to hear from you. Very glad you will get to share the blog with Mike. I can’t remember who called that piece of furniture a davenport, but maybe it’s an English term.
      Those chairs were on a porch in Maine. The other painting is of my own side porch here in Anchorage in the summer sunshine. It’s really feeling like fall here now. Love to you and Pete!


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