In Praise of Porches

For the past twenty years or so, I have spent a week at a tiny cottage in Truro, Massachusetts on Cape Cod. While you may associate the town with the constant shark warnings that have been posted this summer, I connect Truro with my love of summer porches.

My fondness for summer porches began for me as a young child at my grandmother’s cottage in Scituate, Massachusetts along the blustery Atlantic coast. While the beach with its cold, but crystalline clear water was a huge draw, it was the porch that embraced me as warmly as my Nanna’s hug each June when school ended. It was a long skinny screened in porch that ran across the front of the house. There was always a daybed inviting you to flop on it and lose yourself in a book, which I gladly did. I read on that porch, I ate on that porch, and hot summer nights without a breeze I slept on that porch. I can’t ever remember a place where I felt safer as a child.

There have been many more porches since that first one. Each of my homes has had a requisite porch. Even my tindominium where I perch when not traveling has a porch we attached to it. But the little porch I am sitting on right now has a special place in my heart.

For one thing, it holds a lot of memories. Early visits with my daughter right before she returned to attend the same law school I taught at. We knew we were about to jump on a thirty-eight-week train and paused to catch our breath before the ride started. A visit from my daughter-in-law and her newborn son, our grandson Wyatt, while my son was traveling and she was lonely and overwhelmed. My firstborn has called this porch her own retreat more than once. A granddaughter learned the magic of reading on the porch one summer. Porch time meant something special to each of them.

My cousin, John, and family member, Victor, have been coming with my husband and me now for years. We’re all busy people, but we’ve taken this week as a mini-family reunion where we pause, turn off the devices, and listen to each other talk about our triumphs, disappointments, and hopes. In between chatting and laughing, we read books and magazines, write, do crossword puzzles, and munch on the indulgences we only eat and drink once a year.

This porch has become a sanctuary for our annual renewal. The breezes cleanse and detox us. The trees sway, their branches sweeping like the arms of ballerinas. The birdsong is the perfect musical score, although admittedly it is occasionally punctuated by the sound of sirens. It is Cape Cod in August, after all.

Writers like to talk about setting, the importance of place in their work. That is because setting is central in our lives and why this week I will be blogging in praise of porches.

If there’s been a porch in your life where you’ve written a book or rewritten your life, please share with us, including photos.

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4 thoughts on “In Praise of Porches

  1. How lovely, Michele. I guess I have been entirely porch-deprived in my life. A friend owns a house on a lake in Lovell, Maine, and their porch is just what you describe. Reading, eating, always a jigsaw puzzle going, and places to nap. Perfect.

  2. This conjures up so many memories for me…. and to think about a family coming back repeatedly to the same porch is magic!

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