By Paul Birkhead
Rowan Public Library
When my wife and I moved to Salisbury many years ago we rented a cozy little house in the historic district. I loved sitting on the porch in the early hours of the morning reading the Salisbury Post. When it came time to look for our own home, one of the features we had on our wish list was a porch. Luckily we found a historic house for sale nearby and it had an even bigger porch. I still remember one of the first purchases I made for our house was a wooden swing.
Over time, porches have become synonymous with the relaxed, slower lifestyle of yesteryear. Before air conditioning, many homeowners would spend evening hours on the porch catching the cool breeze that was coming to them. Families would sit and enjoy each other’s company. It was also a good place to keep up to date with news or gossip with neighbors. All of that changed with the invention of air conditioning, automobiles and television. People started spending most of their free time indoors, and the porches suddenly looked old-fashioned. It is perhaps not surprising that in recent years people often feel estranged from their closest neighbors.
As with most things, what is old becomes new again. Porches are experiencing a resurgence in popularity as a premier living and socializing space. “Porch Living ”by James T. Farmer is one of the books that can be found at Rowan’s Public Library that showcases everything porches can be. Farmer is the author of several books, a regular contributor to Southern Living magazine, and the head of a design company in Georgia. Inside “Porch Living” are gorgeous photos of casual and formal porches that are sure to spark daydreaming. Other books that might inspire you are “Porch Pleasures,” by Daria Price Bowman, “On the porch, “ by James Crisp, and “Perfect porches ”, by Paula S. Wallace.
If you decide to build, renovate or improve your own porch, look no further than “Ultimate Guide: Porches, “ by Steve Cory or “Porches, terraces and patios: clever metamorphoses, » by Rick Peters. On second thought, Better Homes and Gardens’ “Porch and Porch Planner, “ might be good to check out too.
Plants and furniture are two things that porches need. The library is full of books on container gardening and planting planters. There are also many titles that focus on building rustic furniture or crafting with wooden pallets.
Once you have your lanai exactly the way you want it, be sure to take the time to relax and read a good book or two from the library. “Amish Front Porch Stories ”, by Wanda Brunstetter is a collection of short stories centered on the Fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians. Then there is “Where I’m from: stories from the deep southWhich is a collection of columns by Rick Bragg, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Southern professional.
Finally, most people’s idea of porch hospitality comes from watching families televised from “The Waltons “ and “The Andy Griffith Show. “ Most seasons of each show can be viewed on DVD from the library. While you’re at it, you might want to pick up a copy of the book “Aunt Bee’s Meal at Mayberry. “ Inside you’ll find plenty of delicious recipes, including Opie’s Caramel Pecan Pie and Aunt Bee’s lip-smacking lemonade. Both would certainly have good taste sitting on a large porch.
Paul Birkhead is a librarian at Rowan Public Library.