As a young adult I lived on a traditional city street lined with foursquares and bungalows. Most of them had a porch that spanned the entire front of the house. In the evening, I sometimes walked to the park at the end of the street. As I went, sometimes people would be sitting in their porches. They’d wave; I’d wave back.
That was 30 years ago. Go back another 30 years, I’m told, and it was common for folks to sit out on their porches and walk the neighborhood in the evening. It was a way of connecting with your neighbors. People would wave and say hello, and perhaps stop and chat briefly.
I’ve always been charmed by that idea, so much so that as my wife and I dream about where we’d like to live next, I’m drawn to houses with front porches.
But it’s all fantasy. People sat on porches a long time ago because their houses weren’t air conditioned. Heat built up in the house during the day, and after dinner it was usually cooler on the porch. The social opportunity this brought was just a happy accident.
I remember cool evenings from my 1970s kidhood. But the seasons’ weather has changed considerably since then. Now the hottest part of a central Indiana summer day comes after 4 pm, and the evening cools off slowly. We have far more days in the 90s now than then. My wife and I like to sit out on our deck in the evening, but we can do that comfortably only in early spring and in autumn.
Still, I won’t be surprised if our next house has a wide front porch. I’m a fool for fantasy.