Ranking right up there with man’s greatest accomplishments like five-gallon buckets, Ziploc bags and double stuff Oreos has to be the front porch. Call them stoops, decks, verandas or whatever else you please, the front porch is crucial in maintaining life as we know it.
I just got back from spending a few days with my brother and his family at their secluded cabin in the middle of the southeastern Ohio woods. A splendid front porch of fifty feet or more spans the entire length of their cabin, suspended ten feet above the driveway below, and even higher above the gurgling creek beyond. From that front porch the coming day is planned and the completed day is discussed. From it, deer, turkey, pig and mushroom hunts are designed in advance, and successes or failures of each are analyzed later. I believe it to be the premier bird watching platform in the state. From there, innumerable species of song birds are seen and heard as they visit the porches many feeders, and geese and wood ducks call as they fly back and forth through the valley below. Most nights find someone on the front porch well into the darkness listening for the coyote howls that echo eerily through the surrounding hills, and hoping to be serenaded by the several varieties of owls calling the forest home.
Besides the usual accumulation of comfy chairs, a barbecue grill and bird feeders, my brother’s front porch offers some very unique but necessary furnishings. A couple empty Pringles cans, now repurposed as arrow holders are fastened to porch posts. There are several bow hunters in the family, so the cans hold the variety of different arrows necessary to cover every possible target, whether it be chipmunks, squirrels or coons’ at the deer feeder along the creek, a simple archery target in the meadow or “Bucky” the deer decoy prominently situated on the hillside below.
Another feature possibly unique to this front porch is an assortment of tennis and badminton rackets hung from nails on the posts. As temperatures warm, large wood bees and big bumble bees seem to flock to the porch, and nothing zings them across the porch railing like a well placed shot from a badminton racket. When the family’s all present, this “bee batting” quickly turns into a competition. One recent bout pitted Gage, who is five, against our dad (his great grandfather) the patriarch of the whole tribe, who is 90. Around the porch they went after the invading bee, great granddad spending most of his time protecting himself from the wild, roundhouse swings of the little one, until someone’s lucky shot hammered the bee.
Yes, there’s just something about sitting on a front porch that brings calmness and clarity to the world around us. Maybe congress should meet on a front porch somewhere (I’m just sayin’!) And I can’t help but think that if world summits were held on someone’s front porch, the world would be a better place for it; any grievances could be settled on the spot with badminton rackets. And of course it would help immensely if the front porch, like my brothers was out in the middle of God’s creation…Continue to Explore Kansas Outdoors (even from your front porch!)
Steve can be contacted by email at [email protected]