As I ride around South Carolina, and other states, too, I see benches, swings, and little “garden spots” that people have created in their yards. Most appear neglected and unused. I can only speculate as to why someone would take the time and trouble to create such a spot, only to ignore it. Maybe it is because we wish for a place and time to sit and contemplate some view, our yard, a flowerbed or garden. In a burst of energy, we create the place to sit, but fail to ever create the time to sit.
I think the same thing may be true of porches. You now see many houses with porches, but how often do you see a porch with one or more people sitting on it? I remember my grandparents’ porch in Cowpens, South Carolina. Whenever we visited, we would always end up on the porch. The porch faced a busy highway. It never failed that after we sat for a while, someone would stop to visit. Often we would end up with as many visitors as family members.
I remember my Grandmother’s porch in McBee, South Carolina. Her front porch was only a formal decoration on the front of the house, but her back porch was where she and I sat and rocked and discussed things of great and serious import. I suspect that many of us remember porches in association with a different time and place, and somehow believe that building a porch will recreate that old feeling.
Is it for the same reason we bring back souvenirs from vacation? Is it for the same reason we are inspired by the architecture or landscaping from a vacation destination? All of these considerations come to my mind as I am creating this space to live in. Do we build our spaces to support and affirm the lifestyle we have chosen, or do we build our spaces in a wish to be somewhere else?