Why such a random topic as porches and pumpkins on a blog post you might ask? Fall is a great time to capture porches adorned in the season’s splendor, isn’t that reason enough? 🙂 There’s just so much beauty around this time of year. A couple months ago I had posted some of my summer garden flowers on Instagram and I happened to have a picture of our porch. “Wow, you have a porch, in my dreams!” exclaims SkipRatSusie in Yorkshire, England. I guess we do take porches for granted? So, I set about trying to find out more about the American porches. Thanks Susie for the inspiration, I think I learned a few things myself. All the pictures taken for this post are mine, some from our neighborhood, some from our travels and a couple from our own porch.
The most striking cultural significance of the front porch is its connection to nature and the land. Throughout our history, Americans have enjoyed the great outdoors. The porch in essence was an outdoor living room. The porch signified the cultural ideals of family, nature and community.
The tradition of gracing an American home with a front porch goes back to the early days of the country’s history. Porches are synonymous with American culture as apple pie. It is a transitional space between the private world of the family and the more public area of the street. In the early days before air-conditioned homes, families retired to their front porches after supper for a bit of reprieve from the harsh humid heat of the day. Parents talked about the day’s work, arm chairs or porch swings were common, children played together and everyone enjoyed the cooler temperatures as the sun set.
The majority of the first immigrants that came to America were from Europe. They brought with them their European architectural traditions. These traditions did not however feature a porch. It is said that the first porches in America were built by the immigrants from Africa. It is also noted that porches first grew popular in the south.
See some of the gorgeous southern mansions above on our trip to New Orleans for Jazz Fest earlier this year. The picture below was a plantation home that we visited just outside of New Orleans. It featured a wrap-around porch.
If you look at porches nowadays, you’ll find rocking chairs, a porch swing, chairs and a table. Some are more elaborate. On most holidays porches accent the season. It could be pumpkins and gourds, wreaths and berries around Christmas time, or decorated green on St. Patrick’s Day. I recall a friend visiting us from Australia a few years ago. She found it quite fascinating walking around the neighborhood with camera in hand, capturing the wreaths on the doors, the decorated porches, the patriotism of the American flag flying proudly in the wind and the welcome mats depicting warmth and hospitality as you entered the front door.
Porches in America aren’t as pronounced anymore as in our yesterdays. Air conditioning, televisions and the comforts of home tend to leave the porches more abandoned as a way of entertainment. You still see some being used in the summer time, but for the most part decks and patios in the backyard are the way to escape.
Here’s a typical porch in our neighborhood. The American flag flying high, the chrysanthemums depicting the Fall season and comfortable seating outdoors. I have seen people reading the Sunday newspapers on that porch, so all’s not lost when enjoying the great outdoors on the front porch.
Here’s a glimpse of porches decorated for the Fall season. Pumpkins, gourds, mums and seasonal fare adorn the front steps of the porch.
I know Safari of the Mind reaches readers far and wide across the globe, so I am putting together a few collages to give you an idea.
Last but not least, is our porch below. We do enjoy sitting outdoors in the summer time, enjoying gin and tonics or a glass of wine. It’s always fun talking to the people who pass by.
I hope you’ve enjoyed a wee bit of how the American porch came to be. I’d like to link this post to my blogger buddy Johanne, who blogs @ French Gardener Dishes. She has quite a following on her porch posts, so here’s a couple of her posts to give you some ideas on furnishing and enhancing the area and for those who do not have porches, please enjoy her creativity. Use the search button to look for further posts.