Tuesday, 5 May 2015

A Brief Essay over Front Porches

This is the front of George Washington's Mount Vernon estate.  It looks out onto the water of the bay.....about 300 feet in front of the house.

A magnificent view, no doubt.

You can sit and imagine spring, summer and fall....late afternoon, after a full day of activity, and settling onto a chair facing the bay.  There's no TV....no internet....no radio.....no daily newspaper.....nothing.

Some neighbor might ride up on his horse.....find George sitting there and sipping a whisky.  A discussion could commence....maybe over horses, fondness for peach cobbler, harsh words over some political discussion, or a long-winded joke about a French mistress and a English minister.

Talk might go into the evening hours, with a candle or lamp lit, and the visitor might be offered up a room for the night.

A porch was a place where discussions were a form of entertainment and emotional survival.  You laughed over good times and bad situations.  You contemplated why men did stupid things, or why women uttered harsh complaints.  You might have spent an hour or two discussing why corn is higher in Arlington, than in Richmond.  Or you might have just wasted a whole afternoon discussing why it's so hot this year compared to last year (you didn't have global warming in those days to blame on such events).

In some ways, we have lost the front porch behavior and attitude.  It was an anchored part of our society, our culture, and our future.  No one today defends the front porch.  No quotes great passages or writes epic movie scripts over the front porch.  It was a saga-builder, just waiting for a visitor to start some topic.

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