The South: A Photo Essay (pt. 3)

On the Porch 

This is probably my favorite spot in the whole world: sitting on the porch at the Farm.  It may not be as exciting as sitting on the wall of a 1,000-year-old castle in Germany, but I love it nonetheless.  Whenever I have too much to do, or whenever the world or people are getting on my nerves, or even when I’m just missing home, I close my eyes and picture myself rocking on the Farm’s back porch.

There, you can have a hot cup of coffee in the morning, a cup of sweet tea in the afternoon, and a cold beer in the evening.  You can sit and watch the hummingbirds feed, check out the flowers’ growth, and see the occasional deer at the wood line.  And a car won’t drive by for days.

In my own personal opinion, a porch epitomizes life in the South.  Sure, the particular foods, and family, and accents, and politics – all of that is important, but the Porch is the nexus, the meeting point of all those things.  All Southern houses have one, most have one on the front and out back, and if you’re lucky, you live in one of those old houses that has a porch all the way around.

All good Southern food can be enjoyed on a porch, whether in a chair or down on the porch step, and the cooler is never more than an arm’s length away (whether it’s your own arm, or the arm of someone down at the other end).  Every good dog loves a porch because that’s where their world of the yard meets your world of the house.

On the porch is where lifelong friends and strangers alike can sit and tell stories about the good old days, or pass on little tid-bits of wisdom.  And let’s face it; the porch is one of the best places to catch up on a little gossip.  But, just a little.

But the porch is the absolute best place to simply sit and stare off ou’chyonda (and for any of you poor souls who have never stared off ou’chyonda – bless your hearts – or aren’t fluent enough in Southern to understand what I’m saying, I’m talking about simply sitting on the porch and staring off out into the distance and not saying a word).

Of course, you better choose wisely when you want to sit on the porch.  If you try to do some porch sittin’ in the middle of a Southern summer day, you’ll probably regret it very quickly.  The Dog Days of summer belong to unbearable temperatures, the gnats, and the ‘skeeters’ (more commonly known as mosquitoes) and if you don’t keep up your guard, they’ll eat you alive and carry away your corpse in pieces.

And let’s get one thing straight: Hollywood and Northern authors like to speak of “sultry Southern nights” or “sultry Southern summer afternoons” as if they’re something dreams are made of.  But any honest Southerner will tell you that “sultry” is just a glamorized and romanticized way of saying “hotter than hell and so humid that you can’t stand outside for one minute without being covered in sweat from head to toe.”  But, I guess “sultry” does make it sound better.

So, the porch is a place for meeting and greeting; it’s a place for listening and talking, sippin’ and drankin’.  The porch can be loaded with the members of your family, all of your friends, or it’s a perfect place to sit alone and think (or NOT think).  Time on a porch – like the pace of life in most Southern towns – seems to go much slower.

You’re always welcome on the porch, and when you leave, there’s one thing you will always hear:  “Ya’ll come back!”

Creative Commons License
The South: A Photo Essay by W. J. Newsome is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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