I'd like to first of all give credit to Mary Engelbreit for the beautiful drawing. She is one of my favorite artists and inspirations.
I've thought many times about the architecture and yard design of most homes over the last twenty years. Somewhere along the way, we decided that front porches were extraneous. I wonder why. Was it just an economic decision? Was it to cut costs and put that money into heated and cooled floor space...could be. But I think it's a sad loss in many ways. In the warmer parts of the country, before central heat and air, the porch was an important environmental element. It helped cool the air in the summer before it came into the house, and in the winter it helped keep parts of the house from being blasted by cold winter winds. Both of those lessons could be re-learned, I think, in today's "green" philosophies of living.
Another way that I think the lack of porches (particularly front ones) is a sad loss is that we have become less civil. Now, I know that not having a front porch isn't exactly the cause for the current rioting in the middle east or the Somalian pirates, but when we had whole neighborhoods of houses with roomy and inviting front porches, we spent time on them...drinking our iced tea or our coffee. As our neighbors walked, and our children played in the yard with the other kids on the street, we actually spoke to our neighbors and passed the time of day. We "gasp" got to know each other. We became involved in each other's lives. We felt freer to call on them if we needed them, and they felt the same toward us.
We have become an isolated and private people. We have lost our sense of community. We have become a people who don't trust others. Maybe we have some good reasons to be that way these days, but I think the better we know each other and are involved in each other's lives, the less likely we are to abuse each other.
My Sweet Stacey and I built a front porch on our house. It's not as big as we later wished we had made it, but it's big enough for a lounge chair and a couple of wicker chairs. I'm far back from the road, but close enough for my neighbors to wave to me when they see me on the porch. I like feeling connected and at least recognize strange cars when I see them in the neighborhood. I know the neighborhood dogs and the kids. I watch the seasons change from my porch and meditate on my blooming trees and bushes. I watch it rain and I look for lightning bugs. I watch the geese fly over, get to know the rabbits who nest under my cedar tree every year, and watch my cats play in the grass. I hear distant projects from neighbor's houses: hammers hammering, lawn mowers mowing, chain saws sawing, and leaf blowers blowing. I hear my neighbor's children laughing and splashing in their pool. I listen to my wind chime forest and feel generally blessed to be alive.
For my mansion in heaven, I'm going to request a full-blown, wrap-around Victorian porch. It will have a fine view of the pearly gates and those streets of gold; I'll be able to hear the saints practicing in the heavenly choir, and I will feel blessed to be alive.