In the South there is a certain tradition that has been handed down for generations. Small childen learn about porch sittin’ when they are still infants. In this land where the heat and humidity threatens to wilt even the most callous man, front porch sittin’ began as a necessity. Over time it has become an art.
I was driving home from my parents farm a few weeks ago right around that magic hour when supper is over and dusk is just about to begin. The actual time varies, but around 6:15 p.m. beginning in March and going into early October you can usually drive down any old back road in the South and see people sitting on their front porches. Before air conditioning, it was the best place to escape the heat that was caught inside the house during the day. It was where the cool evening breezes blew and the stiffling heat waffed away. Front porches were rooms where families lived. Peas were shelled, corn was shucked, and beans were snapped while the whole family talked, laughed, shared stories, and discussed ideas for the future…together…sitting on the front porch.
On this particular day I noticed a few people sitting on their porches as I drove by. As I continued driving I began to notice all of the front porches that I passed. Each one of them was decorated with various sized rocking chairs and/or wicker furniture. They had cute pillows and blooming flowers. Some brave souls already had their ferns hanging from the ceiling. Each porch was different, yet beautiful. Each house was built so that the front porch was the welcome mat for the world. Yet, as beautiful as they were…only five of the many that I passed had people actually sitting on them. All five of those people were well over the age of fifty… well more like seventy. And, they all sat alone. I couldn’t help but wonder why?
I continued driving along that Alabama two-lane highway and my mind just kept going. It seems like people these days spend a whole lot of time and money making their porches look pretty and comfortable…yet they never actually SIT on them. I can’t help but think that my generation is missing out on the art of porch sitting and it makes me kinda sad.
The five older folks I saw sitting so peacefully on their porches were doing more than all of us busy young’uns in that moment. Perhaps they were thinking about their day. Maybe they were considering what needed to be done on the morrow. It could have been that they were looking around at what chore needed to be done next. Or, they may have been remembering the people who were not there to sit with them anymore…as well as the ones who don’t take the time to stop for a visit like they should. Nonetheless, they were all just sitting, enjoying the breeze and the peacefulness of the evening.
I realized in that moment that porch sittin’ is an art. It is one of those things that is passed down from one generation to the next by doing it…not talking about it.
Porch sitting is a way of life that forces people to sit down and just be still.
Front porch sittin’ is slow and easy.
It’s not time for rushing around,
Or looking at our phones,
Or stressing out over things that can’t be changed.
It’s a time to unwind and relax. It’s the time when most things that truly matter get done… by doing nothing at all.
Swings sway in the breeze and rocking chairs creak to and fro as men and women sit silently in them enjoying this simple pleasure. Porch sitting has a way of reminding folks that they are truly living. It reminds them that they are alive. It reminds them to think, pray, and remember. It brings balance and peace. It also teaches lessons that can’t be learned anywhere else.
My generation sure could learn a thing or two from those old timers. We need to spend more time front porch sittin’ and less time on the move. We need to teach our children how to just be still; so that they can teach our grandkids long after we are all gone. We need to learn to slow down before falling (exhaused) into bed at night. We need to learn how to talk about things face to face (both good and bad). We need to laugh at the mishaps that befall us throughout the day. We need to create memories that will last a lifetime. Investing time into our homes and families by just being together doing nothing at all is what its all about.
Yep, I believe that Front Porch Sittin’ is a lost art that should be saved. We still have the knack for making our porches look comfy and inviting…we know how to lay out the welcome mat…we just need to take the time to actually sit on our porches and live a little more every day.
I’ve been told that I have an old soul…and maybe that’s true. One thing I know for sure: I was a front porch sitter when I was young and I’ll be a front porch sitter when I’m old. Some things are just too good to ever give up.
Photo credit: http://www.crozetgazette.com/2009/05/front-porch-investments/