Saturday, July 2, 2016

Front porches/back decks

I live in the 'historic district' of Cheshire, so most of the houses have front porches--some of them quite large. But almost none of them are ever used. John, down the street, uses his for a party on Memorial day--but his house doesn't have a back deck!

When I grew up back where I came from, the 'back deck' hadn't been invented. People sat on front porches and talked to neighbors walking by, or the neighbors on either side or across the street who were on their front porches. Walking along you might be invited to come up and "'bide a spell" by half a dozen folks. To 'bide comes from the verb 'abide' and really just means "be with" for a 'spell'--a while. You might get tea or not. You might get conversation or not. But you would surely just sit for a time with the folks on their front porch, watching the world go by.

On back decks, you don't watch the world go by. In fact, by definition, a back deck faces your back yard and not the world. There are neighborhoods in Cheshire where none of the houses have front porches. There are a few steps up the the front door, but the socializing place is the back deck.

We can see parts of our neighbor's on either side back decks--but not all of them. And there are trees and fences and interrupted sight lines. We can all be out on our decks and not really see each other.

I'm hard pressed to make a choice, though ours is obvious. We have no front fence and a dog that would run out and most likely bite people walking by, so our front porch isn't really an option! But, in a perfect world, I would like a front porch where I could sit and say hello to folks passing on foot.

In the back, we don't have to say hello to anyone. It is a weird suburban privacy--the back deck. People only see it when invited to. Everyone sees front porches.

What really bums me out is when someone on our back deck is using a social media device. One more remove from encountering each other. Being on the back deck is the first remove, though.

Maybe I'll put a gate on our front porch (if the Historic District Commission lets me!) so I can sit out there with Bela.

But because Bela would be there, I couldn't suggest folks come 'bide a spell....

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.