My characters always end up on porches.
I mean, all the time. Literally, all the time. In I Just Came here to Dance, we spend much of the novel sitting on the porch, telling and enacting myths. Both passions of mine 🙂 The novel is a myth within a myth, so that makes sense. But I’ve written countless short stories, another novel, and a novella (neither of which I’ve submitted yet), and the new novel I’m working on where folks tend to sit on a porch somewhere. Not that other action doesn’t exist, but so much of the meanings are discerned from under wooden awnings, either coffee cup or wine glass in hand. All the stories are quite different, but somehow their people just like those porches.
My favorite is when horses or dogs frolic in the front yards. What better view? LOL. And both beasts tend to factor into my fiction as well. In On the Porch with Proust, our main character rekindles her love of riding (okay, so she’s tricked into it!) and her passions burst forth once more. Anyone who has ever loved a horse knows that the kinship never leaves you. You may not ride again for four hundred years, but when you do, it’s like your seat never left the saddle.
But back to the porch. In olden days, people spent their evenings on porches, when the Texas heat began to wane and the soughing of the day’s dying breeze cooled the skin. When Mourning Dove sang their keening lament to the last of the butterscotch rays. It was a time of connection, to discuss the events of the day, to relax, to tell stories and laugh with one another. For kinship. And to make sense of the ever-crazier world.
What a different planet from the one of today, where evenings are spent online, on smart phones, watching TV. Maybe the family supped together. Probably it didn’t. We’ve all read the studies on how this ‘always-connected’ culture is so vastly disconnected from one another. In a time when someone across the globe is literally at our fingertips, we don’t know the people in our living rooms.
And we’re all aware of that, right? I, too, am virtually connected. We all are, pretty much. It’s the world we live in, the reality of our today.
But when company comes to my home, we sit outside on one of my porches. Yes, I have more than one. In fact, I added onto my house so that in whatever weather, there’s a porch with a rocker or swing that’s either protected from the winter wind, out in the spring sunshine, under a fan and in full reception of the summer breeze. We do a lot of porch sitting No TV. My cell phone stays inside. We focus on one another and what’s happening in each other’s worlds. Kinda like our ancestors did.
I went to my good friends Nancy and Leon’s a few weeks ago. A beautiful fall Sunday. Where yep, we sat on their back porch, their Labradors at our feet. No horses but show heifers in our line of sight. Wine glasses in hand. (Okay, so the guys had beer.) And made sense of the world.
That’s what connects us. Reinforces our bond. That’s what makes me happy and smiling and ready to take on the work week ahead. Recharged.
And it always reminds me of Bob Hope’s definition of Happiness: “When we recall the past, we usually find that it is the simplest things – not the great occasions – that in retrospect give off the greatest glow of happiness.”
And I’d say I was becoming an old fuddy duddy, had I not done this all my life 🙂
What great insights have you gleaned sitting on someone’s back porch?