Monday, June 17, 2013

One of my favorite columns on The Bargain Hunter

Why my front porch is my happy place

There’s this place we call home, a place where we keep our stuff, a soft landing pad when things are tough, and a place to stuff your face when no one is looking. Most days we wake up in it and get ready for our day. We make coffee, strong and hot and sip it while browsing the internet or chatting with our better half. The kids move through it, tossing their shoes in the same corner they always have, opening the fridge and expecting or rather knowing that their favorite things will be waiting for them. They know that fresh towels will be perched on their shelf awaiting the next shower, and that no matter how messy they leave the couch it will always be freshly straightened by morning. This is home. 

When you grow up and realize that your home is only what you make of it, it can be a sobering fact. Those towels won’t get clean by themselves and the fridge won’t magically dispose of leftovers – although what a great invention that would be. The flowers won’t rid themselves of weeds in the garden, and the toilets won’t clean themselves. Work and tidiness isn’t everything, and I’m the first to tell you please don’t inspect the corners of my house because it won’t be pretty. I like to live and cleaning 24/7 is not my idea of living. I love my home, though, and in it are places that we like to rest and refresh. For me, when spring and summer roll around that place is the porch. It’s not a huge porch but it’s my porch so let me tell you why I love it.

When we moved into our home the porch was tiny and decrepit, with the ceilings falling down. We didn’t have the money to fix it so we lived with it for several years. One day the hubby decided to tear it off and for a year we lived without a porch. Then came fresh floorboards, and a railing built from scratch. When you can’t do all the fixing up your house needs at once, it’s always so exciting when something does happen. That porch was my haven and still is. We never replaced the ceiling so it seems like another room with a high ceiling and rafters exposed. On it sits wooden deck chairs that we paid twelve whole dollars each for, and assembled by hand. Over the past seventeen years or so we’ve had them they have been a myriad of colors from our kids painting them. Today they are a soft charcoal with plush cushions I scored for ten dollars each at a discount store. In the middle of them sits a small bench I bought at a garage sale. On the bench impatiens bloom in a blue pot that was a thrift store find. A small red table also reigns supreme on the porch this summer. It was built by my husband’s hands from an old chair and door. It holds several collected bird houses and a wooden box that once held live lobsters. Flowers, in a thrift store pot, also grace this tiny collection of things that please me. Huge hanging geranium pots dangle from hooks having scored them for five dollars at Lowe’s. The mini greenhouse greets me as I come up the steps, one of the things I cherish as my dad made this at the height of our Junk Fling (semi-annual garage sale) we used to hold. A large pot of begonias, a stone bird and a small gray garage sale bird house nestle close inside the greenhouse made of windows and intricate trim. Other various and cherished pots hold court on the steps, including old wooden planters that I bought for a dollar each at a great garage sale.

I intimately know each item that graces my porch. It signals home to me. Nothing, though, can compare to when I step out on the porch and ease myself into that chair and just sit. I can feel my mind whir down and down until there is no worry except how far I can see into the pasture field in front of the house. The breeze caresses my face and the relaxation hits me full force. There is nowhere like my porch that makes me feel this way. I’ve faced many a problem out here, talked to my kids into the night, shared many cups of coffee with my husband and met many an adventure through books on it. I also meet God out here to wrangle the details of my life into a manageable mess – He seems to know it’s where I hear Him best. 

It’s not a huge porch. It doesn’t contain the best furniture you can buy, nor is it made from the newest-fangled materials. It’s a porch made of wood and love, stained with tears of joy and sorrow. It comforts me and gets me ready for days ahead that might be filled with uncertainty. It’s not just a porch it’s a haven. I recently told my sister that we all need a happy place in our homes or we might as well live in a tent. My happy place is my little porch and I am thankful for it.