Many years ago, front porches were an important part of our society. People would gather on the front porch after dinner in the evening, sitting in straight chairs or more likely rocking chairs, and talk with each other. No TV, no video games. They talked, and not only with each other but with passers-by and neighbors, and kept an eye on the neighborhood children. This provided a sense of community and cohesiveness and may have solved a lot of problems.
Today most houses don’t have front porches, or if they do, they aren’t used. As neighborhoods get larger, communication ceases. I loved our first house in Evanston, Illinois; it had a front porch, and the first thing we did was buy some rocking chairs and sit outside. We met all our neighbors that way!
Today we have a lake house with a front porch, but it’s so far from the road that sitting there is not likely to encourage interaction. That’s when I discovered the beauty of the back deck and the boat house deck. We have visitors on a regular basis to our lake house, and one of the joys of those visits is sitting out on the back deck in the morning with coffee and the evening with a glass of wine and just talking.
The boat house has an extensive deck, and when the weather is warm we bring down a cooler with drinks and food or snacks and sit on the deck. Boats going in and out of our cove have to go slow – it’s a no wake zone – and that almost always leads to conversations with the people on the boats. We swim in the cove and will occasionally swim over to another boat deck and chat with the people sitting there. Sometimes, if everyone is in the water, we gather floating on our noodles and just talk.
As our lives have evolved, so have our front porches!