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Monday, June 27, 2011

Senior Momentum

The Importance Of A Porch 
Summer with a Porch simply has no rival.

It’s not that there aren’t a dozen places where you could do the same things that you can with a porch, it’s that porches have old-time magnetism and charisma.  Some of us remember there was no substitute for ”the porch” when you really needed it!

Some were called Verandas – early Decks.  They came in all shapes, and they can wrap around an entire house with several doors, making it convenient when you suddenly just have to be out there.
Let’s go out on the Porch and talk about it…
You can see them coming from the Porch! 
Leave her alone … she’s out on the Porch …
How about lunch on the Porch today? 
The Porch!  There’s a full moon!

The main difference that I can see between a Porch and a Deck is breadth and expectations.  Decks are wide and expansive, and invite group laughter, umbrella tables, barbeques and toddlers crawling after the cat! 

A Porch tends to be narrow and intimate – it seems to hug the house and beckon rockers and a railing just right for a tea cup and a book.  Chairs are arranged for quiet introspection – where secrets can be whispered in a cozy cluster of Adirondacks, arm touching arm.

When a section of a Porch widened, we called it a Veranda.”  That’s where you’d find the porch swing, divan, glider and maybe a wooden table for dinner and iced tea on summer evenings.

Long, thoughtful gazing can be found there — signaling one to make a quiet retreat, saving their question for later …

In Summer, porches came alive with fresh cushions, slender vases of flowers from the garden perched on the railings, and a braided rag-rug here and there.  You could follow the shade right around the house on the porch, with book or hobby in hand! 

So, what’s happening? Is today’s Porch little more than a “design element?”  I see porches, but I seldom see people using them.

The symbolic importance of a porch may pale in the brilliance of far more critical issues on our society’s agenda (we all know the list and its sub-sections); yet, I wish it were as simplistic a concern as it seems on its face.

Are we seeing the demise of “thinking” as a valid endeavor, with solitude and contemplation re-defined as malingering and unproductive? Is real face-to-face conversation -- for its own sake -- being lost along with our actual connections to one another, our listening skills -- and our porch culture?  Is this a subtle symptom of something bigger and more ominous?

Can the humble porch and its quaint invitation and embrace compete with the instantaneous quench from a baby-talk phonetic text answered at warp speed, and passing for meaningful dialog?  Maybe not, and then what?

Could I even lure friends to an afternoon of “just talking on the porch?”  It is hardly possible to have a conversation free of the ringing of someone’s cell, or absent those glances at a silent text – lest one miss a single beat in the 24/7 streaming!  And am I really interested in a conversation with someone so distracted and bound to an electronic device that they cannot concentrate on an idea?

Do they even matter – these ruminations by us elders about the value of how things worked in past years?   I hope so … because without us pushing against the grain, challenging them with choices and contrasts, the newer generations will just write us off as resistant to change -- we who evolved those changes for them, and inspired them in turn to grow and innovate!

The importance of a porch …  leave your cell phone on the shelf by the door, and let’s go out on the porch and talk about it.

Zoë Tummillo is a Business & Marketing Consultant / Trainer / Commercial Writer, dba COMMUNICATION CONCEPTS, in private practice since 1974.   In addition to Commercial work, she writes “Senior Momentum:  A Series of Situations”©; and essay memoirs of growing up first generation Italian American:  “Pieces of My Path”©.  To contact her — email: