This week's dispatch features thoughts from Lisa on the magical, unexplainable, power of the front porch.
For three years, I lived in a drafty, old apartment on the third floor of a house just outside of Boston. The windows were poorly insulated, and the weathered hardwood floor creaked. There were few amenities for the four of us graduate students who lived there, but I’ve been remembering the place so fondly as the temperatures finally dip and the leaves change here in Atlanta.
Our most beloved luxury—and the thing that sold me on the place when I first visited it—was the front porch. We practically lived on it every summer and for as long as we could stand to be outside through the fall. We spent many quiet evenings out there, with various combinations of friends, classmates, and loved ones. Sometimes we’d pack it so full with food and wine and smiling faces it’s a wonder that rickety old porch is still standing.
We sang and sipped on the porch. We leaned back and put our feet up. We schmoozed and philosophized, told stories and heard them told. If there ever was a place to “shoot the breeze,” it was there. I always felt as if clocks stopped ticking when I stepped out onto the porch and heard the screen door slap shut behind me.
It was an intimate space and a public space too, half-inside, half outside. We could hear conversations drift up from the street, and I’m sure our carrying-on reached passersby too. If I can think of one space that kept me afloat during those challenging years, it must be that porch, which, even while covered in snow, held the promise of quiet and connection on the other side of winter. — Lisa
Last week’s dispatch asked, What is your favorite memory about a long walk? Maybe invite a friend to join you for a winding walk and meandering conversation this weekend.
The best long walk I have in recent memory was in Bastrop State park in late spring of this year. It was with my son and several of his friends on a two night camping trip. We took a hike that, at the trailhead, had normal healthy trees. Very quickly, though.. the landscape changed, and the burnt and charred trees were all that could be seen. The charcoal smell was overwhelming and very real, and the black color of the burnt forest was very dramatic. It was worth visiting, and as of writing this, I'm going to make sure I go back in the next few weeks to see how it's changed.
We live near the beach. Every morning, we wake up as a family, have breakfast and read the news to each other, and then head out for a family walk at sunrise. Since we're on the east coast, sunrise walks are especially beautiful, with the sun usually peeking over low-slung clouds on the far horizon.
One of my most memorable walks was through Muir Woods with my father in northern California. The serene and calm involuntarily lead you to a sense of introspection as you're brought to grips with your significance amongst the giant timber. Conversations we shared delved farther into who we really were more so than we ever had before, and it brought us both to the realization that our relationship had evolved to no longer just be father and son, but brothers on the same journey of life, striving to live a life that matters and leaves its mark upon the world in some tangible, meaningful way. There under the pacific canopy of the trees we had shed a layer of ourselves, to reveal the reality of our true selves underneath. I'm so thankful for how God puts us in these places, in these moments, with these people, in just the right relationship-altering circumstances to shape a memory that I'll never forget, all because we wanted to "go for a walk."
We downloaded new versions of ourselves. Now that I’m finished installing mine, I’m back online, but it’s going to be different now.
In the face of endless content streams, it's hard to stop and take a breath.
Who would you love to join you on your front porch?