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By Laurel Pattenden

Porches are places for casual get-togethers or time alone. A place for looking at the world without having glass and curtains sheltering us.

Passersby can see us, and we can see them.

On our front porches we wave, give a head nod or even a shout out. Hello. Nice day. Oh, that sun feels good. Hot enough? Hey Shelley! It is from here we see new faces in the neighbourhood. Strangers passing down the street.

Years ago, before air-conditioning, porch sitting was a daily event. A heat wave survival technique. If it was dark enough men could get away with sitting in their undershirts and youngsters in their pajamas. We placed our chairs just so that our view is unimpeded or perhaps a little hidden. It all depends on our vulnerability on that particular day.

How do you curate your front porch? Pot of flowers here. Perhaps wicker chairs over there. A small table for a cool drink. Signs with messages of welcome and blessings. Signs with messages that we wish would enter our hearts.

Housing styles change and we change, too. Many new homes don’t actually have porches. They have entrance ways. Perhaps calling it an entrance way is a bit more upscale sounding? Can you porch sit in an entrance way? Definitely, because it is all about looking out there at the world. Seeing.

Now, back porches are totally different from front porches. Back porches tend to gather more of the clutter of our schedules. Things that can give someone a little more insight into our everyday-ness. A bicycle leaning up against the railing. A small rug airing out. An extra water dish holding refreshment for our overheated pets. Small things but necessary.

When it comes to porch sitting choosing the front porch or the back porch sometimes has a lot to do with the sun position at that time of day.

However, I also think it has a lot to do with how we are that day. Feeling a little bit more open to the world, our desire might be the front porch. The back porch might be more alluring if tired and worn out. We may feel more comfortable porch sitting at night. However, this is only true if you have a dynamic mosquito defense system in place!

I highly recommend porch sitting. We can sit our souls down and rest. Take in the feel of a fresh breeze. Air out our hearts. Introspection was made for porches. Early morning or at dusk we can find ourselves. I think our spirits have front porches and back porches. Places where we can look out and where we can look in at newness in the world and the everyday-ness of our lives. Spirit porches that lead us to understandings and growth. That lead us to our uniqueness and to knowing.

This summer I plan to do lots of porch sitting. Front or back. Thinking about how this column marks the end of its tenth year. Have I changed over the ten years? You bet! September starts another year of writing. What will I write about? Yep, calls for some porch sitting. Join me? Lemonade or craft beer, anyone?  

Laurel is retired and likes to spend her time in her art studio. 

Featured photo: Boston Public Library