I love small towns and their traditions and I love that many of them still have old neighborhoods that haven’t lost track of what is important—porch sittin’.
It’s a seasonal phenomenon geared around the cooler hours of early evening starting as soon as the winds quit in May and running through a hopefully late fall in the Southwest.
This time of year offers a Southwestern version of a Currier and Ives painting. Find the old section of any small town and the oldest home on the street will have a few mismatched chairs and an old couch in place out front for some serious, dedicated porch sittin’.
These people still have a hold on the enjoyment of a simple life without the high tech, high speed and high noise we have become accustomed to. You won’t notice them from the highway as you pass through town pushing the speed limit. However, they are there—tucked along the side streets, back streets and shaded neighborhoods.
They just sit. Sometimes they sit alone and watch a little occasional traffic, or sometimes they gather with family and friends. Kids are playing ball and frequently chase it into the street, unaffected by the fact it is a street, albeit a quiet one.
Water hoses run sprinklers on a tiny patch of lawn or sometimes the porch sitter proffers the hose himself with a misty spray he waves back and forth over the cool of the green grass. Dogs bark off in a distance and chickens squawk their last notes of the day as they head to the roost.
An evening owl hoots from the top of a tall cottonwood tree announcing his arrival for the night watch. Laughter volleys through the summer air as adults share remembrances or children delight in games they are playing. Voices blend in animated chatter up and down the street, while notes of music escape through an open window in the distance, adding to the subtle sounds of the night.
You can walk or slowly drive by taking it all in and with that comes a friendly wave from the porch sitter, but without missing a beat in his conversation or an interruption to his quiet gaze off into the dusk.
I had to learn the art of porch sittin’ but it wasn’t long before I became a natural at it. I enjoy it alone and I enjoy it with friends. I enjoy it in the morning but I especially enjoy it in the evenings.
There is something to be said for giving your body and mind some time to decompress from the pace this world imposes on us in every form we allow—computers, phones and televisions just for starters. While reality gives a firsthand view of the world going to hell in a hand basket, there are still some places to find a peace from those things we seem to have lost all control over.
On my porch, there is quiet, there is cool and there is solace for the soul. Because that’s what I go there to find.
It’s my belief the world needs to do a little more porch sittin’. Not necessarily the fancy patio kind with a feng shui-designed waterfall and ambient lighting complete with piped in classical music. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with that. It’s just that my preference is the kind of place where nobody on the porch knows what feng shui is.
Find your porch this summer, and turn back time just for a little while. Better yet, find some quiet peace to sooth your soul.
Julie can be reached sittin’ on her porch, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.