Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Front Porch

There are parts of living in the deep south that I truly miss.  The heavy southern drawl of ladies chatting over an impromptu afternoon tea.  Old oak trees with beautifully shaped canopies expertly adorned with the perfect amount of spanish moss draped elegantly from its branches.  Dogwood trees and azalea bushes in full bloom creating an absolutely spectacular display of nature's beauty.  But most of all, I miss the big wrap-around front porches.

Porch, Wrap Around Porch, Swing, Rocking Chair
Photo by Billy Hathorn

Those big porches allowed for a lot of activity.  You could sit on the porch and watch your neighbors as they mowed their lawns, or watch your kids riding bikes or playing in the sprinkler.  You could put a swing on the porch and glide your way through discussions ranging from what people were wearing to solving the world's most intricate problems.  It was the perfect place to learn a new craft or listen to stories about your ancestors.

Porches allow you to sit outside and enjoy the peaceful tranquility of a summer rain, the sound of the trees as their leaves rustle in the breeze, watch the cautious flitting  around of the butterflies, and listen to the hum of the bees buzzing around as they gather pollen.  It's the perfect spot to watch the crazy antics of the squirrels and you can even hand feed birds tiny pieces of bread, which entices these beautiful creatures close enough so you can marvel at all of their tiny, brightly colored feathers.

By not building the big front porches, builders have helped to eliminate neighbors interacting with each other.  No longer do people sit out front, drink tea or lemonade, and enjoy each other's company.  Now everyone sits in their backyard, enclosed by a 6 foot (or higher) stockade-like privacy fence.  Homeowners have created their own prison-like compounds and padlocked gates, they've closed themselves off from everyone outside of their own household.

There are many people who know nothing about the people who live next door to them, not even so much as their names.  When homeowners aren't in their backyards, they are inside their homes with the blinds drawn and the front porch lights out.  Homes appear uninviting and as though they are fortified against a possible enemy invasion.

The loss of the front porch has caused homeowners to become so private that we don't live in "neighborhoods" anymore, we live in "subdivisions".  My kids wanted to know what the difference was between the two.  The dictionary, as always, describes the difference between the two perfectly:

Subdivision:  The act or fact of subdividing.  A portion of land divided into lots for real-estate development.

Neighborhood:  A district or locality, often with reference to its character or inhabitants. A number of persons living near one another or in a particular locality.  Neighborly feeling or conduct.  

Maybe I'm old-fashioned but I like knowing who my neighbors are, beyond just what their names are.  The front porch is the catalyst for that interaction.  The front porch is what changes a subdivided tract of land into a community of friends.  The front porch is where technology ends and real human interaction begins.  The front porch is where friendships begin and memories are created which last a lifetime and beyond.  The front porch............... it needs to make a comeback.

Written by:  Christie Bielss


  1. No southern drawl here, but my mother in law next door has a beautiful wrap around porch that is 10 feet wide. We spend many a summer day eating and having family/friends over just to sit on the porch and rock in a rocking chair. So I know what you are talking about....it's awesome! We only have 4 houses down here in the valley and all of us converse except for one house. They are not too friendly and only talk when they want to yell about something, but I still wave and smile when I see them. I know what you mean when you wish for a true real neighborhood. If those grumpy folks ever move out I sure hope some friendly people move in. :) And aren't you still working on your house? Why not add a big porch to the list? I'm saying this only because I live far enough away from your husband who would probably slap me silly for the thought of it! lol

    1. We would love to add a big front porch to our house and actually have it on our "to do" list. But, with kids, that probably won't happen for another 15 years, but it is something to look forward to! We have been blessed with some really lovely neighbors we really have a great time with. I hope one day your grumpy neighbor will either have a change of heart or you'll get a new neighbor who enjoys making a community and not just a subdivision.