05.04.2009

Porch Sitting


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One of my all time favorite past-times is porch sitting.  The very first day it gets warm in March (and if we’re lucky, February), I do my best to get in some quality porch sitting, knowing it may be weeks, even months, before it is warm again.  Porch sitting is my favorite way to enjoy good company, malted beverages in 40 ounce containers, awesome conversation, and superb people watching.  The activity, (if you can even call it that), is so enjoyable due to its sheer leisure.  There are no TV’s or music playing to distract you.  The people around you are ones you’ve chosen and not strangers who can easily annoy you.  There are no expectations except that you have no where to be anytime soon, thus providing you with the ability to linger and relax, porchsomething not that prevelant in our fast paced culture of today.  Also, porch sitting can be a day or night activity.  I prefer late afternoon when it’s still light, and I’m sure your neighbors would prefer that as well, especially if you are known for getting loud.

Porch sitting has been around for centuries; I’m sure your grandparents engaged regularly.  From my understanding, porch sitting originated as a way to escape the summer heat that stifled your house.  For this reason, the late afternoon and dusk were the times you would find most people on their porches. 

Today, porch sitting is fairly rare (at least in the city; I feel like small southern towns are probably packed with porch sitters).  When I walk down the side streets of Chicago in the summer, I very rarely see people porch sitting.  Instead, I see drunken college age kids who think they are still at their frat house– they crowd the sidewalk with their games of “bags” and jam as many people as they can into their front yard.  But, occasionally I will see an elder or two porch sitting, and when I do, I smile.

There is an art to porch sitting; it’s not for everyone.  In the city, we rarely have enough room on our front porches for chairs, so the stairs serve as our seats.  Porch sitting requires a small gathering of intimately acquainted friends.  People who get bored easily or feel like they are always needing to do “something” will not enjoy porch sitting.  People who get uncomfortable with silence and don’t like watching the world go by will certainly not like porch sitting.  It truly takes a high caliber person to be able to sit, do virtually nothing, and be supremely content and worry-free in doing so. 

I must admit that, sadly, I do not have access to a porch where I live now.  My favorite porch is the one at my parent’s house, the one I grew up sitting on.  There are about 10 stairs to the top, and the porch itself is rather large.  This is also the best porch because our family cats would sometimes join in on the porch sitting.  Cats and porches?!  It doesn’t get any better than that!  And if there were ever an animal that is content with sitting, doing nothing and watching the world go by, it’s a cat.  (Especially one named Popcorn!)

I think one-way side streets have the best porch sitting opportunities; they are quiet but still provide enough foot and car traffic to give you something to watch.  The big trees that line these streets provide you with some basic sdc11007shelter so you are not on display as you would be on say, a busier street like Clark or Addison.  If it’s a particularly hot summer day, the trees can also serve as much needed shade. 

This past weekend I was lucky enough to engage in some porch sitting.  My brother and I ventured to our old apartment (where friends still live), and reacquainted ourselves with this lost art.  Who needs friends with money when you have friends with porches!!

When the day comes for me to purchase a single family home, I will not be looking for multiple bathrooms or spacious closets.  I will be looking for a large porch with ample space to enjoy porch sitting with my most favorite people in the world.  That is certainly one of the closest ways I’ve got to experience heaven.

Pet Peeve of the Day: Pets with human names

Quote of the Day: “The difference between literature and journalism is that journalism is unreadable and literature is not read.” –Oscar Wilde

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