A Saturday Morning on the Porch
The View from My Hill
This morning on the porch is what I imagined retirement to be like. Waking up at first light with a light heartedness not felt during the working years. With the burden of the daily grind lifted, a new energy takes hold. No morning news shows reminding me of the violence in the world today. No newspaper opened to retell the horrors of yesterday. My morning begins gently now. I have the time to listen to the birds sing their morning songs. I can watch the sun rising over the eastern tree tops. Blue skies greet me, the humidity of the day not yet changing the color to a milky gray.
Before the rest of the household wakes, I brew a pot of coffee. Once this was only a weekend treat. But now it is mine to enjoy every day. With the first sip, I can start my day, or not. Ahhh…the luxury of retirement.
I remember the year when my love affair with porches began. My family had just moved to a big old three-story tenement in Pawtucket that had a huge wrap-around porch. As the first-floor tenants, we had almost exclusive use of the porch. And it was here that I would spend many a rainy day, or a day when it was so hot that the porch provided some much-needed shade.
There must have been chairs or rockers on the porch, but I don’t remember them. I do remember sitting on a red and green tartan plaid wool blanket that my mother traded in her S&H green stamps to acquire. She would place the blanket on the porch floor for me so I wouldn’t get any splinters and there I would sit for hours playing with my dolls or reading my books, feeling utterly content. All these years later, I can still sit for hours on my porch reading a favorite book.
One of my favorite porches today is tucked away in the woods almost a mile up an old dirt logging road on the Maine/New Hampshire border. It is attached to a cozy little cabin in the woods. I love this porch for the solitude it offers. Not one other cabin can be seen from the porch, only the surrounding forest of pine and maple and birch, and the distant mountain tops. There is no electricity, except when the generator roars to life. If you listen closely, you can hear the trickle of water from the nearby stream – until recently, the cabin’s only water supply. After a rain storm, and after the snow melts, the trickle becomes a rush of water and the rush fills the collection barrels. Water from there in turn fills pots of water that are placed on the wood stove in the winter to heat for washing – pots and pans and ourselves. A much simpler, but harder life here in the woods. One that is richer in the most basic of ways. On the occasions that I am invited to visit, (for this cabin belongs not to me but to a family member), the porch is my haven. In good weather, we take all of our meals on the porch. There are comfortable old chairs, a couch for napping, and a coffee table that we spread all kinds of food on. Meals up here in the woods are often of the gourmet variety.
When we bought our home in Seekonk 18 years ago, it didn’t have any outdoor living areas. But the space was there and I could envision a porch. It was a small bungalow on a large lot. Our first add was a very large deck, maybe too large for the size of the house. So, after a few years of being eaten alive by mosquitos, I talked my spouse into the idea of enclosing part of the deck and making a screened porch. Now, 12 years later, it is our favorite room ‘in the house’. It is my haven and the only reason I look forward to the summer is to sit out there. And in this my first spring of retirement, I feel almost as if I too am re-awakened. The porch beckons me once again and I will happily spend my retirement enjoying it.
Life is gentler on a porch.