The two seem to go together, don't they? I have no idea why, but I've been thinking about porches quite a bit lately. My grandmother in Georgia had a screened-in front porch, complete with a swinging love seat on a chain, bouncy chairs with multiple cushions, and an overhead fan that kept the air moving on those still, humid Southern nights. It smelled of the grass mats she used for rugs over the terra cotta tiles. With stacks of old books from her attic and piles of trashy magazines, the wrought iron lamp casting a yellow glow, I read for hours. I never wanted to to bed. My grandmother would hold my insomniac brother's feet in her lap on the swaying love seat, rubbing his toes and singing lullabies to ease him into sleep, and I knew I was where I should be. Porch as protector, entertainer, the center of all that was lovely and loving. I was a lucky girl.
My other grandmother always wanted a back porch. She had a concrete sort-of porch, with steps leading into her pine-tree-filled back yard. A dedicated gardener, she designed her yard carefully, and with the edict that only those plants that bloomed would suffice. Her grass was lush, the Adirondack chairs uncomfortable, and the cocktail parties usually ended up under the shade of the pines. She never built her porch, and I always felt it was a shame. Then one day, in her early nineties, she tumbled off the concrete block porch (which had no railings) into the flower beds that surrounded it. She was wearing her old high heels, of course. and a dress. And a girdle and stockings. The flowers cushioned her fall beautifully, and she ended up laughing at herself, sprawled in unladylike display, crushing her cherished plants. She tore the knee from her hose, got a bump on her shin, and that was it. No real damage except to the nasturtiums. I realized then that it could have been so much worse if she'd fallen onto a concrete porch floor. Her flowers literally saved her life. She lived several years more, surrounded by beauty and nature, with no screens or walls between her and them.
To porch, or not to porch? I think I like the idea of both. I read voraciously, every genre, and I could never limit my horizon to one type of book over another. I am my grandmothers' heir in more ways than DNA.