I spent most of my adult life wanting a front porch. Not a deck, or ground level patio, but a sturdy, roof-covered porch with columns and rails spanning the front of my home. A place of open refuge where I could grow geraniums and hang windchimes, sway in the evening breeze on a porch swing while reading a good book. A cat or two sprawled out on the rail or steps, a husband dressed in a white linen suit and panama hat, smoking a cigar in a high-back rocker.
What I had for years was a salt box farm house designed by someone so fearful of tornadoes tearing off the roof that the house had no eaves, let alone a porch. Nothing to shade the straggly flower beds I tried to cultivate, nothing to keep the blazing Nebraska sun from pouring through the large south-facing windows into the house that had no source of cooling other than to go outside where them temperature was about 2 degrees lower than inside.
When I moved to “The Big City”, I moved from one consecutive apartment to another–no yard to keep up, no garden, nothing to bring me outside. At first, I loved the freedom; but as the years passed, I found myself wanting a yard, a garden, a clothesline…a porch. When I remarried 6 years ago, I told my husband of my dream. Would he be willing to be that man in a linen suit in the rocker? Yes, he said. But the years rolled by, apartment by apartment, until 2 years ago we found this house to rent.
Built in 1921, in a quiet neighborhood, surrounded by other homes of the same age, all stately, well kept, with deep front porches and backyards. And clotheslines. This house, as well. Huge oak trees in front and back, fenced in backyard with a spot for a vegetable garden. The first spring and summer here I planted, hoed, and weeded beautiful vegetables and flowers, and this summer they rewarded me with double the blossoms and plants I put in. There’s a tiny pond with a continuous running pump fountain and gold fish in the back yard, the gurgling water is calming when I sit out back. I hang my laundry out to dry on the clothesline; just the act of snapping out each individual item and hanging is rewarding, especially smelling the fresh outdoors scent on the clothes when I bring them in. My sister would come over and ask why there was always clothes on the line, and I would answer, “because it’s there”.
I spend as much time outside as I can. If not in the back yard with my flowers and garden, then sitting on my glider on the front porch, looking at my geraniums blooming, listening to the windchimes, and reading a good book. I didn’t get the linen-suited husband in a high back rocking chair, smoking a cigar. But I did get a husband in blue jeans and tshirt, sitting on a vintage patio chair smoking a cigarette. Not quite the dream I had, but seeing him relax and smile at the two cats lounging on the porch makes up for it.
This is my definition of contentment.