POSTSCRIPTS FROM THE EDGE(WOOD): The Fine Art of Porch Sitting

Edgewood-Woodsdale is a neighborhood with sittable porches. Although we have few vast verandas, many of our porches easily accommodate a few chairs or a glider. They were made that way. Porch sitting was an important part of life for the longest time in America, and thankfully, I can report that this tradition has not died out with smartphones and satellite television.

On any given day at just about any time of day, my neighbors enjoy their porches. The three nuns who live next door to me play board games on their porch in the late afternoons. A few houses up, a bunch of young men sit on their porch in the evenings drinking a few beers. Down the street, children congregate on my neighbor’s porch most evenings eating Popsicles and giggling.

For the longest time, I did not engage in this daily ritual. I felt like I was too busy to just sit and enjoy the view. I am blessed with a large front porch and an even larger back deck, and both went to waste for a few years as I adjusted to being a mom of a rambunctious little person while working full-time. But this summer, having been inspired by a friend who lives on the other side of the neighborhood, I started sitting out more in the evenings, which at first meant taking my laptop with me and doing some work, but not long after, I started inviting friends to come sit a spell.

In the last two weeks, I have shared my front porch and back deck with 10 different friends who have brought a liveliness to those sometimes-lonely hours between six and nine when I feel too tired to keep working and too awake to go to bed.

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We talk about relationships, politics, our children, novels, movies and nothing at all. We share a beer, a coffee or maybe a cold iced tea, depending on the tenor of the evening. Sometimes a friend brings their children to play with my son while we adults enjoy our conversation. Other times, my son entertains my guest with his storytelling and magic tricks.

I am always sad to see my visitors depart, but I linger on my porch and listen to the sounds of night creatures coming alive: crickets, cicadas, owls. Lightning bugs begin their flickering dance, and I remember what it was like to be a kid. My grandmother and her friends would sit on her front porch and watch me catch lightning bugs in a jar in the blue-gray light of dusk. I wanted for very little then, and in many ways, I want for very little now. A front porch, a few friends and a good drink. Simple and yet more than enough.

Christina Fisanick, Ph.D., is an associate professor of English at California University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches expository writing, creative non-fiction and digital storytelling. She is the author of more than 30 books, including her most recent memoir, “The Optimistic Food Addict: Recovering from Binge Eating Disorder.” She has been a Weelunk contributing writer since 2015. Christina is a 1996 graduate of West Liberty University and a member of Ohio Valley Writers. She lives in Wheeling with her family.