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Library Notes: The easygoing pace of porch living

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 front porch in the early morning reading the Salisbury Post. When the time came to look for a house of our own, one of the features we had on our wish list was a front porch. Thankfully, we found a historic home for sale nearby and it boasted an even bigger porch. I still remember one of the first purchases I made for our home was a wooden porch swing.

Over time, front porches have become synonymous with the relaxed, slower-paced lifestyle of yesteryear. In the days before air conditioning, many homeowners spent evening hours on the porch catching whatever cool breeze came their way. Families would sit and enjoy each other’s company. It was also a good place to catch up on news or gossip with the neighbors. All this changed with the invention of air conditioning, automobiles and television. People began to spend most of their leisure time indoors and porches suddenly seemed old-fashioned. Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that in recent years, folks often feel detached from even their closest neighbors.

As with most things, what’s old becomes new again. Porches are enjoying a resurgence in popularity as prime living and socializing space.Porch Living,” by James T. Farmer is one of the books that can be found at Rowan Public Library that showcases all that porches can be. Farmer is an author of several books, has been a regular contributor to Southern Living magazine, and is head of a design firm in Georgia. Inside “Porch Living” are gorgeous photos of casual and formal porches that are sure to spark some daydreaming. Other books that might inspire you are “Pleasures of the Porch,” by Daria Price Bowman, “On the Porch,” by James Crisp, and “Perfect Porches,” by Paula S. Wallace.

If you decide you want to build, renovate or upgrade a front porch of your own, then look no further than “Ultimate Guide: Porches,” by Steve Cory or “Porches, Decks & Patios: Moneysmart Makeovers,” by Rick Peters. On second thought, Better Homes and Gardens’ “Porch & Sunroom Planner,” might be a good one to check out as well.

Two things that porches need are plants and furniture. The library has plenty of books on container gardening and window box planting. There are also many titles that focus on building rustic furniture or crafting with wood pallets.

Once you have your porch just the way you want it, make sure you 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’s “Where I Come From: Stories from the Deep South,” which is a collection of columns by Rick Bragg, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and professional Southerner.

Finally, most folks’ idea of front porch hospitality comes from observing the television families of “The Waltons” and “The Andy Griffith Show.” Most of the seasons of each show can be checked out on DVD from the library. While you’re there, you might want to pick up a copy of the book “Aunt Bee’s Mealtime in Mayberry.” Inside you’ll find many delicious recipes including Opie’s Butterscotch Pecan Pie and Aunt Bee’s Lip-Smacking Lemonade. Both would sure taste nice sitting on a big front porch.

Paul Birkhead is a librarian at the Rowan Public Library.

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