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.
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.
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.
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.
On Wednesday: Outbuildings #1 – The Silo