I was thinking about this week’s Weekly Prompt of Inside Out and thought of how we move from inside our homes to the greater outdoors. And then I thought of porches.
I’ve wondered if they are a phenomenon of small town and rural communities of the 19th century, or have they been around for eons?
You don’t see many porches in large metropolitan areas. Stoops, perhaps, but porches seem more prevalent in older homes. Or is it I grew up in an era and areas where front porches were a gathering place?
I’ve lived in homes with a porch, without a porch, with barely a step into the front door, with expansive wooden or concrete slabs where children could run and play, or where a porch swing rocked back and forth in an evening breeze on a corner of the landing.
They seemed to disappear when high rise apartments became popular===, and when people moved from their front yards to the back patios. I think we became more private in our migration from the front outside to the back outside.
Before the days of air conditioning, telephones, and multiple cars, porches were a cooling relief from oppressive heat, the current events repository, and a social connection between neighbors.
Walking to and from the grocery store, or the post office or to church services you would stop and chat with someone sitting on a comfortable chair reading or just listening to the roosters in the back yard and birds arguing over discovered earthworms.
Maybe it was just a wave, but usually a more extended dialogue ensued: grandchildren visiting, who in the next block was ill, city advisories, just the bits and pieces of everyday life shared, often enhanced, but nonetheless discussed and acknowledged.
In Mexico there are not many porches. Beautiful gardens and patios are within the boundaries of a casa, but usually hidden from public view by a protecting wall, saved for family and special friends. Social interaction is alive and well, but it is usually done at a public park, in the gardens of a church, or while sharing a bench tucked under a flowering tree.
What is talked about? Since I speak no Spanish and understand even less I haven’t a clue about the topics covered, but there is a sense of peace, casualness, and acceptance.
Children play, scampering about, dogs sniff the surroundings before settling under the benches, strangers nod and exchange greetings, families share a snack purchased from a nearly by street vendor, and some sit alone reading in the presence of others.
Perhaps it’s the Mexican answer to porch life.
It is how we keep moving from inside out.
More Inside Out thoughts:https://weeklyprompts.com/2020/06/24/wednesday-challenge-inside-out/