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Thursday, July 22, 2010

APPALACHIAN SITTIN' PORCHES

The "dog days" of summer are strong upon us. The traditional rocking chairs are on our front porches waiting for friends and family to come by to "set a-spell" -- relaxing with us in the cool of the evening. Or perhaps one might like taking some time in the early cool mornings to sit in their rocker and observe the passing scene or just have some "thinking" time.. Here in the south these front porches are called sittin' porches.


Older homes in the south usually have front porches probably evolving from the need to escape the indoor heat of the house plus to view the world around them.Even many of the newer houses are built with some type of front porch. Today with air conditioning most folks are inside during the heat of the day. Yet even with AC the porches are still used in the traditional way of the past only now in the cooler mornings and evenings.


At one time, people walked rather than drove. Folks would commonly use sidewalks or roadways to walk to town for errands or to visit neighbors. The folks passing by the occupied porches would sometimes take the time to chat with the porch sitters for a while. This type of behavior provided a system of socialization for the area.

Appalachian rocking chairs are the familiar choice found on most front porches. However, wicker and metal chairs are also types scattered on porches.

Front sittin' porches are almost akin to an extra living space. Many are decorated with items of interest to the home owner. Porch swings are also popular.

Overall front porches still provide a good place to come "set a-spell" and have a good conversation or to just sit alone rocking -- contemplating the beginning day.

16 comments:

  1. Ah, this post takes me straight back to the glider on my great-grandparents' front porch!

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  2. willow -- I did notice some gliders on a few of the front porches as I traveled around viewing the various porches. -- barbara

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  3. We use our front porch (with rockers) as a second living room. A great place for morning coffee or drinks and nibbles before dinner.

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  4. Sounds wonderful -- I can also envision that you might spend a little time writing on your porch.-- barbara

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  5. Southern Indiana where I grew up isn't all that southern but this post happily reminded me of family and neighbors -- at few, not all by any means -- who had gliders or a couple of chairs on their porches. I especially loved the gliders, they're associated in my mind with lemonade. I don't have a specific memory but probably that's what I was given when we visited.

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  6. Oh, Barbara! What a delightful post! So inviting! When we built our house ten years ago, MM had made up his mind that we would have a wraparound porch. And so, today, we enjoy the 360-degree porch that shelters us regardless of the weather. No matter the direction of the wind or breeze or rain or snow...we can find a side that offers respite. As for conversation...when folks come in the spring and summer, it's the first place we choose for visiting. Porches are always preferred! Lovely photos you chose, too. So tidy and pretty! Thank you for this piece!

    Elora

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  7. June -- Interesting that gliders were popular in southern Indiana. As I remember southern Indiana, it is beautiful with lots of greenery and foothills. Much like central and eastern KY. Living and observing in central Kentucky -- I find the most popular sittin' object is the rocker. Many homes have three or four on their porch with perhaps some wicker or strait backs mixed in. Many of the rockers are beautiful old southern handmade ones. Gliders are found sometimes. That lemonade sure sounds good especially with all the heat we have been experiencing. Thanks for the nice comment -- barbara

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  8. Elora- Now your porch was a brilliant idea. I know that spring and fall is an ideal time to sit on a porch. I too use my front porch in the fall and spring while during the summer only in the early morning and evening. I bet you have a porch view of those gorgeous sunsets that you put on your blog.Thanks for the description of how you use your wonderful porch -- barbara

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  9. What a delightful post. I love front porches and I miss having one. About the only people I chat with when I'm out front are the dog walkers. The joggers pass by too quickly.

    Thanks for dropping by my blog.

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  10. Kass -- nice to have you stop by. I find dog walkers are usually friendly as well as neighborly. Thanks for the nice comment -- barbara

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  11. We are newcomers to KY but not new to the idea of porches. We're pleased that the little house we bought [built in 1980] has a covered front porch. Now I can think of it as our "sittin' porch.

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  12. Hi Barbara! I loved this post and can really relate to it. Before moving into my current house located in a older town with a walkable downtown, just over a year ago, I never had experienced the kind of community I'm finding in my new neighborhood. Because I spend time on my front porch, I have met each of my neighbors as they walk by with their dogs, or head out on an errand into town. As they take their kids to school, or pushing their babies in a stroller. I find lack of attached garages and houses in close proximity to one another also plays a part.

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  13. Morning's Minion, yes, so many of the newer (post-1960) houses have been built with covered front porches. It is traditional to this region. They're great to sit on during a rain storm. Thanks for the nice comment -- barbara

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  14. Darcy -- You bring up some good reasons why small towns with front porches are great for socialization -- your house being in a walkable community helps the social aspect along too. Thanks for the descriptive comment -- barbara

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  15. What a fun post! I've lived in houses with covered front porches and houses without, and the ones with porches are the best! :-)

    Even though this would be no day for perching on a porch (I'm visiting some of your archives today, obviously!), I look forward to living in a house with one again someday. And meanwhile, these lovely photos are so pleasant and welcoming to look at, especially on a sub-zero, snowy day like today is! I'm especially partial to the cheery yellow house and its inviting porch, but that porch swing in the last photo brings back fond memories of sitting in the swing on the porch of our Maine farmhouse, so it's a favorite too. :-)

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  16. Laloofah -- Sub-zero to single digit temps! Yikes! Winter is closing in fast on your state. It was in the sixties today in KY. But, of course, our turn for cold temps is coming.

    Sittin' porches are part of the culture here. People do actually sit on these front porches while they enjoy early evenings outside the house. Waving is still a custom here and people sitting on their porch will often wave as you pass by in your car. Even if they do not know you. Nice custom.

    Nice that you enjoyed the yellow house and the porch swing. Thanks for the comments -- barbara

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