“Sitting on the front porch on a summer afternoon…” sings Dolly Parton in My Tennessee Mountain Home. Lately, I haven’t been able to get that song out of my head. Though it’s the depth of winter, I can finally stand on the front porch of my farmhouse (currently being built) with a view of our barns and this property I have dreamed of for so long.
Some of my best memories have been on front porches. Though I never have had my own, they have always been in my life. My great-grandmother’s front porch was a staple of my childhood. I’d sit on the porch swing and talk with a host of aunts and uncles. The barn cats would come meowing for scraps and attention, which I gladly offered. That front porch looked across the shared driveway to my Aunt Vivian’s tidy home and up the hill to my Aunt Lois’ house. It was the anchor of it all, witness to the comings and goings, storytelling and generations of memories. If I close my eyes, I can still see my great grandmother waving goodbye to us from that front porch, as she did each time we departed.
In more recent years, my dear friend Katie’s front porch was a refuge. As I was feeling the call of wide-open spaces and changes needed in my life, I sat on her front porch. The horses grazed in the pasture as we shared wonderful conversations. There was a coziness and feeling of belonging as we rocked in the rocking chairs, with her trusty dog, Colt, reassuringly at my feet. It was peaceful in a deep sense that I had been craving long before I had any idea that life in rural Iowa was in my future.
There is a sense of perspective on a front porch that you don’t get anywhere else. You are at the threshold of the home, covered, but not inside – in a safe place of in between. The best front porches are an extension of the home, welcoming you and inviting you to sit down and pause for a moment.
As we planned our farmhouse with the architect, the front porch was always one of our “must have” items. It is only a concrete slab right now, but it will soon be furnished with rocking chairs overlooking the pasture and barns. I can’t wait to greet each new day on my very own front porch, with a cup of coffee, taking in the wide-open spaces and fresh air in gratitude.