There they sat—side by side—a table between them with a lamp, a couple of coffee cups or tea glasses, and the daily newspaper.
He, balding, reclined in his chair; she, tall and wiry, sat upright in hers.
Oftentimes, the two just sat, no conversation in the air between them, comfortable in the tranquility of their surroundings, watching the goings-on outside the window.
The place they sat? A porch, enclosed with storm windows or screens for use year round, a porch in a small town on an Illinois prairie—railroad track edging the back yard a few feet behind the grape arbor, two-lane thoroughfare rimming the front yard.
Between the porch and the highway was a sidewalk of brick—the sort of walk that had to be weeded each season or the vegetation growing between its bricks killed with gasoline or some chemical concoction.
Mr. and Mrs. B weren’t unlike others of their World War I-era generation—grandparents in their late sixties in the early sixties. They were much like many other porch sitters in cities big, towns small, in the hills of the southern US or on the banks of rivers and lakes across the land.
Kids raised, grandkids dropping in for an occasional homemade cookie, Popsicle or board game, they had more time now to while away the hours, linger over a slowly sipped beverage, watch the activity in front of them, and reflect on that behind them.
This summer, Hubby and I moved to our retirement home—the first house in our four decades together that has a porch.
“A screened-in porch,” I thought, when we looked at the house. “How old-fashioned—why not a deck? That’s what they put on houses these days.”
“I don’t like it,” I told my husband. “I don’t want to be all closed in.”
“You might be surprised,” he said. “You might even want to replace the screen with windows so you can enjoy it longer.”
I hate it when he’s right.
I moved to the house a couple months before my husband, while he worked to his retirement date. I found myself on that porch morning, noon and night—and most of the hours in between. My work as a writer and editor allows me to work anywhere that I can get a wi-fi connection and plug in my laptop computer.
I went out on the porch first thing in the morning toting coffee and breakfast and watched the hummingbirds and chipmunks. I went back in to shower, grabbed my computer and worked on the porch until lunchtime. I ate on the porch while I read a chapter in a book, then spent the afternoon out there writing and editing.
Even on the nights when I had a zillion unpacking and renovation tasks, the porch beckoned I visit it for supper. I heeded its call.
A couple weeks ago the workers finished converting the screen porch to one with sliding windows so we can use it year round.
Last week, I finished painting the walls and the trim, and the carpet was installed.
This week, my hubby and I became the 21st century version of my grandmother’s neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. B.
The popsicles are in the freezer, the board games on a shelf. All I need is a good kid-friendly cookie recipe and the grandkids to come to visit to create another round of front porch memories.
Never thought I’d see the day, but the two of us are now in our sixties and porch sitters.
I like it.
© Ann Tracy Mueller 2012