Monday, January 19, 2015

Front porches and sidewalks

There is a beautiful old house in a city north of me that was built by the great-grandfather of one of my daughter's childhood friends. This friend and her family lived in this lovely home for a few years. The large rooms and wooden flooring were enchanting. But the idea of sleeping porches outside the bedrooms always intrigued me. These screened in porches seemed like a perfect place to spend a night during the summer when the weather was hotter inside than outside.

My grandparents had a sleeping porch on the back of their farm house. They liked it so much they insulated it and spent every night there, summer and winter. It was warmer than the two uninsulated bedrooms in the house.

Charleston has their famous piazza running down one side of their single homes. (Heather tells the enchanting story)

Driving around The Heights in Houston and the observer can find an over-abundance of charming porches on the front of the homes. One can imagine a different era when these homes were built. Neighbors strolled down the sidewalks, stopping to chant with friends who were sitting on their front porches after a filling early evening meal. "Hello, Mr. Tucker, Mrs. Tucker. Nice to see you."  On and on the conversations must have gone.

A good friend spends time on Cape Cod in the summers. She tells stories of stopping to visit people who are working in their gardens, admiring their plants. They allow her to take pictures, which she sends to me to admire. This is what a community should be about.

Today we drive to the gym to exercise, watch the screen in front of our faces, and sometimes fail to acknowledge the others nearby. On Halloween we hide behind closed doors and wait until children ring the doorbells for candy. I decided to be proactive last October and pulled lawn chairs to the end of my driveway. As we sat there with a bowl of candy, we actually had the opportunity to visit with a few neighbors and their children. It was pleasant, although I'm sure the children probably wanted to head to the next house to gather more candy instead of waiting for their parents to visit a bit.

I've always loved sidewalks and front porches. Neighborhoods filled with these two elements seem to be a bit more welcoming than neighborhoods where we have to walk on the streets when taking a stroll. Although I love the hometown where I've lived for 27 years, the bike paths through the woods can't take the place of neighborhood sidewalks. They serve a totally different purpose.

I'm anxious for our new home where we'll have porches to relax on, sidewalks to stroll on, and hopefully be able to interact with neighbors who also value the simple things in life.

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