Posted by: A Part of the Solution | March 20, 2010

The Porch as Concept

As I’ve said before, I don’t like shopping. But in Spring, a woman’s fancy turns to populating the porches. My mother and a farm friend both donated some sturdy, metal framed porch furniture. None of the cushions is remotely usable (unless a high school rugby team drops by right after the game–they’d be in no condition to quibble with the schmutz and wear).

While it’s good to have the foundations of porch living in hand, there’s still the matter of a glider. I’ve really got my heart set on a glider. There’s already a lovely, huge swing. And there’s at least one spot for a hammock in place (and the hammock as well, thanks Trica & Bill). But the glider is a key piece in my mind.

The problems with tracking down the right glider are manifold, though not insurmountable. They aren’t easy to come by used and in good condition. Anyone who has one will generally keep it until it’s a pile of rust and bolts held together by habit. The new ones are often not very well made, and constructed using poor quality materials. Used to be a full sized glider could challenge four strong men to shift it without causing serious trouble to the backs and knees involved.

I’ll check on Craigslist for a good glider. I’ll look on E-Bay. I’ll scout the classifieds in the local paper. I may even track down some estate sales in my quest for the right glider. I only hope I won’t be trailing across the entire of the mid-Atlantic region to bring my Moby Dick to port. Don’t call me Ishmael though; it’s not a pleasant name.

More than just having a well-appointed set of porches, I want to encourage tourist traffic from Europe. Porches are foreign to the European tradition. They have patios and loggias and grassy lawns and pergolas and follies and balconies and verandas and terraces but they don’t have porches as we know them in America (pretty clearly the porch on the Parthenon, and similar ruined temples, doesn’t count).

I don’t know why they don’t, but I’ve traveled around and asked as I’ve gone. The answer is an unequivocal ‘no’. While they may have cultural artifacts, interesting eats, and occasionally glorious scenery in Europe, they don’t have a porch from which to enjoy any of it. What a pity. The porch, like the skyscraper, is a purely American contribution to world architecture. To know the porch is to love the porch. And more people ought to know the porch. It is a piece of wholesome decadence with which no one can quibble.

Let us raise a glass of something cool and refreshing to our porches. Let us rest in the shade they provide as we exploit the winsome breezes blowing by. Let us admire a climate which makes a necessity of that which would be a luxury elsewhere. Let us consider the views we have from our porches before our eyes drift shut over the obligatory prop of a book or newspaper.

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