Porches, Part 1: Porches Come in Many Forms

house with porch

I am a firm believer in the power of intention. I believe that when I firmly commit myself to something, the forces of the Universe can line up with that commitment and support my intentions in powerful and mysterious ways. Other folks might call it “dumb luck,” but such support has come to me too many times to be discounted. On the other hand, I’ve also learned the importance of being very specific in my visioning, for example, when identifying the qualities I’d like to have in my home.

By 1989 my ex-husband and I were finally in a position to buy a house, and we each had a list of the things we wanted. Each list had 3 columns: Must-haves, High priorities, and Wants-but-could-do-withouts. One of my Must-haves was a porch. Having grown up in a house with a front porch from which I enjoyed watching the rain fall, the squirrels play in the yard and the people come and go, I had lived too long without a porch.

I spent many hours of my childhood on this porch!

My ex didn’t agree that this belonged in the Must-have column, but I insisted. After months of refining we had a list on which we agreed that included things like more than one bathroom, a protected area for our two children to enjoy outside without being in danger of traffic, dedicated laundry space, and, of course, a porch. We got ourselves a realtor. Her name was Helen Bird, and I figured if our realtor’s name was “Bird” everything was going to be fine. Besides which, she was like the grandma I never had. I mean, I loved Grandma Fuller (and the lovely porch on her house) but Helen was sweet and approachable in a way that never occurred to my grandma.

Grandma Fuller’s front porch

After several weekends of looking at houses with Helen, we found one that stood out. When a realtor takes people to view a house, the protocol is for the current owners of the house to be gone, but these owners had insisted on being present to meet whoever came to see their house. When Helen took me, my ex and our two toddlers into the house we were introduced to the owners, a couple in their 80’s who seemed pleasant enough, but we paid them little attention because we were busy exploring. I LOVED the house and something inexplicable happened as I stood in the dining room and turned my head to look through the kitchen and down the hallway. It took my breath away. I just knew we HAD to live there. 

Two adorable toddlers in need of new bedrooms

Mind you, the house did not have a porch, which was a huge disappointment. But I was so sure it should be ours that I was willing to overlook the missing of one of my must-haves.

Back home we sat down with Helen and wrote up an offer, which she immediately presented to the owners, who said that another couple had already made an offer for more money than we were offering. My ex and I hung our heads with a sigh … until Helen told us that the owners had decided to take our offer because they liked us and our children. We bought a house!

Then we learned the couple’s names were Charlie and Lucille Porches.

Fifteen years later, with the commitment I’d made in 1989 to live in a house with a porch still percolating, life brought me from Portland, Oregon to South Louisiana. I moved into the house on the bayou, a house with a screened porch – – the best kind of porch – – that Tom built with his own hands, which makes it even better. The porch shares one wall with the house; the other three sides are all screens and framing, giving us a 270-degree view of the front and side yards, the driveway and the road on which we live.

The view inside the porch is as good as it is outside. A picnic table with a bright oilcloth (all weather!) covering sits in the middle of the space, with four cushioned chairs around it and a lovely potted Hoya plant (Hoya carnosa) hanging from the ceiling.

During the pandemic this table (minus the tablecloth) served as a holding area where just-purchased grocery items were left to de-contaminate, under supervision of the dogs, before entering the house.

With one beloved canine and the dog kennel gone, two sides of the porch are now skirted by black wooden benches holding a host of potted plants, side by side, growing in tropical opulence.

potted plants

These include Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera russelliana), Philodendron (Philodendron selloum), Zanzibar gem (also called the ZZ plant, Zamioculcas zamiifolia) and others. The plants are chaperoned by the porch guardian, a three-foot-tall metal (all weather!) sculptured bird named Kevin (after the bird in the Disney movie, “Up”).

Along the third side of the porch we keep our boots (all weather!), a cabinet for storage of bug spray, ant killer and other odds and ends, lidded containers of bird seed and cat kibble, and a few more plants.

Because you can never have too many porch plants.

potted plant

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