the front porch ~ by sandy erdman

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~Scenes from a Front Porch in Autumn~
by Sandy Erdman

As we remember enjoying the summer parade from the front porch, life has slowed down with the arrival of Autumn.  The porch continues to be a favorite gathering place for our family and friends, even if the chill of fall has settled in.

The front porch, adorned with wicker rocking chairs and footstool, invites us to settle in. A creaky porch swing provides a comfortable place for reading or a quaint place to enjoy a cup of coffee with a neighbor.

In a cozy corner on the front porch, two adorable fluffy black kittens cuddle close to their mother and snuggle in to keep warm for a peaceful afternoon nap so safe and warm, you can almost hear their gentle purr.

A fall front porch picnic is set out, a hand sewn quilt is spread on the floor as well as a basket full of apples from the farmer’s market. The heavenly scent of homemade molasses cookies and breads linger in the air as hot apple cider is served. Crisp fall leaves have blown onto the porch around the pumpkins and berry garland.  A fall wreath hangs on the door and a willow tree grows close by. Everyone shares the moment of togetherness. As the afternoon sun disappears into the evening, the family sits on the porch. Bingo, the golden lab, lounges where he knows he shouldn’t be, on the beautiful, time worn, black wicker settee, enjoying the evening air with the peaty smell from a neighboring fireplace. Everyone is cherishing the memories that are being made, for it’s the coziest time of the year.

~History of Porches~

Throughout the history of architecture, trends have come and gone.  The impressive white columns of Greek revival mansions gave way to the elaborate decorated trim of Victorians, which in turn changed to the ease of the one story bungalow.  But through all those transformations in style, one element has remained: the porch.

Porches have been in use since the earliest buildings.  Egyptians, Greeks and Romans found the porch well-suited to their sun soaked climates.  While largely out of fashion during the Middle Ages, porches and balconies found themselves in widespread use during the Renaissance.  The roots of our American porches don’t appear to be found in Europe, but rather in the architectural heritage of colonial trading partners.  Traders en route from the Caribbean to the British, French and Spanish colonies were influenced by island architecture, rich with large open porches to accommodate the humid climate.  Little by little, primarily in the south, colonists began to incorporate porches in their home designs with the mix of tropical influence with European classic.  In Virginia, porches often took on the look of their ancestors with two symmetrical stories flanked with columns.  The classical porch was also popular in Charleston, blended with the climate sensitivity of the Caribbean building tradition to create regal double story porch plazas. French settlers in the south also found the swampy climate of the low country suited to their elevated country homes with wide porches and pavilion roofs. The Spanish settlers on the West Coast and in the Southwest brought knowledge of porches and balconies from their native country.  Second story porches, often spanned the width of the house and were both practical and widespread with corridors running along the back of the house which became commonplace in Spanish America.

The American fascination with Victorian architecture became the inspiration of the Arts & Crafts bungalows and the Prairie-style homes of Frank Lloyd Wright; although in a direct contrast they were the last major historical architectural style in the United States to incorporate the porch.  Instantly recognizable for their prominent deep, wide porch which reach out from under his signature cantilevered roofs Wright had the tendency to transfer the porch from the front to the side or back of the home trying to keep in touch with the outdoors.

As America grew and industrialization created a larger white collar job market  the American leisure class had more time to spend with family and neighbors along with the love of the outdoors making porches a popular gathering place.  Soon streets filled with noisy automobiles, television and air conditioning, and more focus on work than leisure time on the porch.  But the underlying love for the porch never faded and is now back as a symbol of traditional American values.

~The Porch Becomes Popular Again~

A porch doesn’t have to be an exact, formal structure with large columns and wide steps, but some resemblance of a temporary point between the outside and the doorway into your home, such as a stoop, patio, sunroom, gazebo or a deck.

The elements that make a porch special are your collections and memories. These are the things that transform this mere structure on your house into the unique reflection of you and your home. A porch can be a wonderful place to relax all year long. A place to spend your leisure time with family, friends, neighbors and of course Fluffy and Bingo…

Sandy Erdman, nationally known published freelance writer in Winona

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  12 comments for “the front porch ~ by sandy erdman

  1. Sandy
    September 29, 2011 at 8:45 am

    I hope that folks enjoy this as much as I enjoyed writing it. You can see my love of a front porch and mainly because I don’t have one just a small deck entry that I still decorate like a fall front porch with flowers and a rusty wagon, pumpkins and mums grace the side of the entry way with six cats that peer out of the window as visitors come to our home…Thank you my friend. <3

    • Melissa
      September 29, 2011 at 8:49 am

      Such a great post! I love having a front porch. It was one of the requirements on our house list when we bought our home. I agree with you though, with a little imagination you can transform a deck or even a stoop into an inviting ‘pause’ between the outside and the inside of your home. Thanks again for sharing the article 😉

  2. September 29, 2011 at 11:16 am

    What a beautiful read! I love porches too, for the nostalgia they bring my mind, even though it’s never really been a part of my upbringing. The porch still represents something very American to me. I happen to not have a porch now either, but the back patio suffices. 🙂

    • Melissa
      September 29, 2011 at 12:01 pm

      So true Maria. A porch is a state of mind 🙂

  3. Sandy
    September 29, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    Someday I will share with Melissa my older articles on the “Back Porch” and “The Kitchen”. Your porch can be an open porch, screened porch or any entry way as some folks want a room without flying insects, but still enjoying the scent of the outdoors. So, I say grab a glass or a cup of whatever, get a notepad to write down your own ideas as I given you ideas on how you can turn your fresh-air space into a carefree sanctuary with all the comforts of home this fall.

    • Melissa
      September 29, 2011 at 8:20 pm

      thanks Sandy!

  4. Kimber Dunn
    September 30, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Loved this article Sandy!!! Completely agree with what everyone said about the porch. I have a small space that needs help. Between needed repairs and pathetic attempts on my part to decorate, it’s a sad little patio/porch/deck area. I sure love seeing the pictures of everyone else’s spaces! Very creative and inspiring!

    • Melissa
      September 30, 2011 at 1:33 pm

      Thanks for commenting, Kimber 🙂

  5. Sandy
    September 30, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Thanks Kimber & Maria as it’s folks like you who inspire me and a big “thank you” to a very special found friend Melissa who encouraged me to submit to her blog as I really don’t have time to keep up with my own blog if I were to have one…I would love it if she would give me some tips sometime as to where to publish in book form all my work so all could enjoy…<3

    • Melissa
      September 30, 2011 at 1:49 pm

      XO Sandy! I am all about encouraging other artists and helping any way I can. If you have any specific questions, just send them to my personal email. I have a few little tips I learned while going through the whole publishing process twice. Happy to help. 🙂

  6. October 4, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Wonderful! Thank you.

    • Melissa
      October 4, 2011 at 3:53 pm

      You’re so welcome. Glad you enjoyed the post. thanks for commenting 😉

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