Sunday, June 28, 2009

Front Porch Reflections

What made a front porch special? You know, that place where many shared with each other and reached out to those on the street with stories and recipes that brought in the world around them. In my grandmother's time it was special because you spent summer evenings cooling off after hot days kibitzing with the neighbors as they walked past, or if you lived close enough, from porch to porch. You shared the day, and family events and sometimes it was simply a time for quiet reflections of the day or even the week as the moon rose high in a summertime sky.

It was a time that families sat together, something that is often not possible in this age of overworked parents and over involved kids. I'm trying to recature that feeling of letting go and enjoying the natural world around us, along with friends and family rocking over floors that held tight the imprints of many rocker foot prints that were gentley worked into the long pinewood floors of those old neighborhood porches.

So how can we put into words what such a small part of a home could create for many families and often for whole neighborhoods that comfort zone where trust was a way of life, and family often meant all who lived nearby on the street.

So what made that experience and the memories that were made of that time an anchor in many a childhood, and it gave many a framework for what became a tight knit family grouping in that period in history.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Summertime and the Living is Hot!

Though there is much I love about summer the humidity that accompanies the summer heat has never been one of those things. I was out with my grandkids this morning and we could take it, but right around noon it became so opressive the weather drove us indoors to the cool comfort of our small air conditioned home.

This kind of heat use to be reserved for late July and early August and usually only lasted a few when I was young but now almost always begins in early June and can run through until school begins or even later. As a child the idea of the hot and humid summers in the deep South was something that made me thankful I didn't have to worry about since I lived in the Northern part of the Midwest.

Today, the Southern summers seem to be very much here, and now. I suppose I could always move but this is home, and though the summers sometimes are debilitating for this humidity hating soul the rest of the year gives me much to still celebrate here along the lakeshore of our great Lake Michigan.

The one great thing about summer is the beach not far from our home and my favorite thing to do is sitting and watching the sand, gulls, and rolling waves that are so peaceful. Right through the late fall this retreat of sorts becomes a form of muse on par to my lovely snow covered days for this cool loving gal. I could sit for hours and feel and almost touch the scents of this part of my world.

So right now, in this heat filled evening I am enjoying thoughts of the cool of the sand when I dig toes down to the damp cool and settle in for a quiet solitary moment or two that makes the whole summer and all that is wrapped up in all that describes the season special.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Front Porch Musing

Today our front porch traveled to a local park with trails and walkways that meandered along the edge of our Lake Mac. All along the way there were swamp willows and maples amongst the many wild flowers that dotted the area as well. I came across a gorgeous yellow wild iris in and amongst the seedlings and young plants where we finally placed our chairs to enjoy our floating front porch this Sunday.

We parked the chairs on one of the many walkways that had little porch like bump outs with benches. The benches weren't comfy enough for our front porch so our soft folding chairs filled the bill and gave us shade because we could move as the sun began to set.

It's a great place, and we both relax and began our scanning the lake and enjoying the breezes that came our way. I wanted to keep my hands busy so I brought my sketch book and began to sketch the water's edge and just enjoy the quiet that this spot had in a very busy park. It's surprising that you can find quiet places like this in even the busiest local parks. As we sat
watching the jet skis dance back and forth and a few sail boats meandering in the quiet water in our section of lake.

As I sat sketching, and my husband dozed people wandered past, some with kids who shot far beyond their parent's grasp , or young couples who are completely off in their own world. It made for an interesting people watching evening that's for sure! I think that old fashioned front porch life has often been lost in our technical age where we settle in front of the television or computer on these beautiful summer nights.

One thing that is great about these forays of ours into the local recreational areas is the conversations that come from the different settings we find ourselves in on Sunday nights. This isn't simply looking at the world from the safety of your porch, but getting out there and becoming a part of what's happening in our world.

Our personal front porch has been moving to encompass much of our county's parks and has turned into great mini get-aways where we have no phones and lots of nature. It is the best time for thinking which with all that has gone on in recent months is really a good thing.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Not Becoming My Mother

I'm reading a very good little book. Sometimes those little ones hold such gold between the words and lines, and in this case it is so true! Not Becoming My Mother is book about a frustrated woman who was a wife and mother who spent much of her life unemployed because during that time in our country a woman could not work because, "women worked only if her husband could not afford to take care of her and his family."

I cannot imagine living in a time when women could not have a career and be a vital part in the business world, and though I cannot find a place to work right now myself, I know that the world is more open in this day and age than ever in our history to women in the work place.

But this small story is really a love story from a daughter to her mother because she was allowed to see the misery and angst that came from a frustrated woman who had little purpose in a life that was constantly searching for purpose. The story is definitely a message of love from a mother to her daughter - but it is also one from the daughter to her mother and every other woman of that era where depression for women ruled the course of every day.

I'm so glad I read it! Because of the real words of love and honesty found in the story, and between the lines I can highly recommend this little book to women and men everywhere. It gives a really true picture that is sometimes gritty and difficult to see, but also filled with such familial love which is beyond anything I've found in any book in recent years.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Gentle Walk

I walked with a girlfriend today. Actually we walked from our respective homes and met in the middle then walked back to my house (This time it was mine.). For various reasons I am having to walk slower than normal and so I did what many little kids do when walking - I looked down at the road and then all around and observed all that was around where I normally walk.

I found out that the yards in my neighborhood look like those in the 1960s: there has been very little lawn fertilizing being done and there are varying shades of green being mown like grass these days. I have to say there is nothing wrong with that either! (35 mile-an-hour lawns are great!) Unless someone is trying to impress the boss, spreading fetilizer can end up costing lots of money during these tight money times that could be saved toward family or household emergencies.

I also was strolling on a day just after a rain filled day and the puddles held an assortment of stones and wild things. In many of these sub division these urban water holes contain a multitude of things - like seeds sprouting. Watching the various dog walkers (and runners!) taking their fuzzy friends walking and stopping to chat made it easy to meet those neighbors I haven't seen all winter long.

My observations? I need to slow the walk (or run!) once in a while! It might give you a view of the world that I miss. It sure did for me!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Front Porch Thoughts...

My last blog dealt with our moveable front porch that finds itself in various spots around West Michigan during the summer courtesy of our soft foldable chairs.  Those chairs give us those Sunday vacations throughout the summers.  We never had a front porch growing up, and we certainly don't here in our small house, but we have created one with our two traveling chairs!

So I will share our various porch views over the summer and hope you enjoy the view through our eyes.  

Sunday, June 7, 2009


This afternoon my husband and I took our folding, soft chairs and headed to a spot that sits alongside the small lake that that is often the center of our community during the summer months. We found a spot in the sandy grass and in the midst of the maples and oaks near the water's edge and sat in those breezes of spring and listened to the birds that dipped and dove around the water's edge. There were red-wing black birds, swallows, gulls and way too many others singing and flying wonders.

We watched the boats, jet skis, and other small boats run up and down the lake too. Even the occasional sheriff's boat chasing those ner'er-do-wells down this our waterway. The smells of fires from the nearby campground, and those wisps of clouds streaking across the sky made our temporary front porch seem like heaven.

Our few hours there were filled with so much more than I can describe, but as we folded up our chairs I knew that with the crowds of summer the many weeks to come there would be no quiet evenings like this again until the fall.

I'm glad we had today.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Springtime Problems

I actually did a bit more than putter in my garden tonight!! I divided and transplanted a couple of perennials that bloom at the end of summer since they probably wouldn't bloom unless I split them any way. It sure is nice to have plants multiply!

This was another lovely day in a row of so many cool and lovely ones. Tomorrow I'll walk again with my fuzzy friend and I am really looking forward to it!!!

The birds were out again today too. Lots of grackles - yucky, greedy birds eating all the suet and seed from my feeders. I let the dogs drive them away quite a few times today. They never catch any but they keep them from coming back right away. They usually pass on after a few days if I stop putting the food out...but I hate to not give my woodpeckers and all the other birds food. They move on and then I spend weeks with nothing but sparrows! Quite a decision to make - lose bags and bags of seeds to the grackles over the summer, or lose all the birds...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Life on the Walk

If I could run...I would! So instead, I am walking with my very old fuzzy friend who always starts out fairly fast and then slows to a crawl on our return trip. Tonight it was cool enough out to wear my polar-tech. We are having a wonderfully cool spring and I am really enjoying this outside working weather! I guess I'm not a hot and humidity lovin' gal.

I want so badly to start digging in my garden since I have one corner left that needs work and it is totally covered with grass...but the doctor says not yet, and so I walk.

I saw at least 10 different kinds of birds in the trees and the singing in my opinion was the most beautiful orchestra nature could ever create. There is something about the springtime and those bird songs that say everything is really new again.

There are quite a few houses on our block that are empty which is so hard for me to see. It makes me think of all the families that are displaced and facing an uncertain future. Michigan has been hit so hard, and though my own family is right there in many ways, I really feel blessed because there are so many more who have truly lost everything.

This stroll down our street has brought me back to how thankful I am that it is spring - that time for new beginnings. I hope there really will be change and better times ahead for all of us here who are, according to our governor are at rock bottom.

Here's to hope. A hope that springs up as our world here in the Midwest hopefully will come back to new beginnings with the blossoms of spring.