An Out on the Porch calendar hangs in my home office each year. I used to give my mom one as a gift and a promise each Christmas. The gift was a reminder of our many hours together on her porch and the promise was that I would be there again soon to share porch time. I truly have this thing about porches. Lately as I sat on our screened porch in Florida, I mentally walked through all the places I have lived since I left Saranac Lake, N.Y. when I was 19. I was on a search to uncover why porches have such an emotional importance for me. I’ve lived in 20 different homes in 12 communities in four states, including where I live now. Some offered porches that I ignored. Five homes had decks or porches where I spent hours on the porch or deck as weather allowed. I realize my love of being out on a porch coincided with the time I was able to travel back for solo visits with my mom and the rest of the Keough family. My children were raised and I had ample vacation and personal time. I could spend a chunk of summer time visiting Saranac Lake.
Mom and I developed a porch relationship. We would read and chat. I would have work shipped to me so I could do it on the porch with mom, allowing me to stretch vacation time since I was working part of each day there. My brother Ron and his wife Peg would often stop to chat. Other friends passing by would join us for awhile. Offers of a cold drink would accompany our welcome. Somehow time slowed when we were on the porch. Visitors lingered; my brother would pause in his work day; Peg and I could talk about children and grandchildren. As my mom entered her life’s last decade, she would often nap, awakening a bit surprised to discover just who had joined us on her porch. The porch became the evening gathering place for the Keough family living in the four homes on that street. Ron and Peg’s grandchildren grew from babes in arms to toddlers to young adults and went from being warned to stay out of the street to joining the porch conversation. I remember the first time I met my great niece Kelly as a toddler. I was warned that she was shy but eager to meet her I went down the porch steps and opened my arms. Kelly ran into them and right into my heart. When I visit summers now, I look at mom’s porch and memories of time spent there remain vivid. We sometimes congregate on my nephew Brendan’s porch diagonally across the street. The tradition of Keough time on the porch continues. For me, a home without a porch lacks something vital. When we moved here, Ken wanted to close in the porch to use it in the cooler months. I vetoed that. I love sitting on that porch, looking out, rocking and thinking. We do our devotions out there; have our best discussions there. We use a portion of that porch to dry clothes in God’s dryer, sunshine and breezes. Neighbors venture over to chat. And I often just rock and think of the magnificence of God’s creation. I can see flowers, trees, tiny lizards, a snake now and then, and gratitude makes me want to leap up, stand and sing a song of praise out loud. I resist that. God granted me many blessings but a good singing voice is not one of them. So I whisper it instead.
David's Song of Thanks (1 Chronicles 16:8-10)
Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice! Lord God, Creator and Redeemer. Thank you for every green leaf on every bush and tree I can see as I sit on my porch. Thank you for every flower in all its glory. Thank you for your amazing, awesome creation, even the snakes. But you know God, snakes make me a little uneasy. So keep them at a comfortable distance from me. And I praise you for that.