A rainstorm that fell on our house last week reminded me of my favorite pastime: to sit on my porch, cup of coffee in my hand, and watch it rain. Being alone is a plus. I can look out into the trees, listen to the rain and somehow erase all other thoughts from my mind.
As a mother of a one- and four-year-old, I haven’t been able to do this in a very long time, but like I said, the rain made me nostalgic.
I don’t feel a house is a home unless it has a front porch, and I suppose I have inherited this love of sitting on a porch watching it rain from my father and grandmother.
As an adolescent, I used to fly to Georgia in the summers and spend several weeks with each of my grandmothers. I fondly remember the afternoon rain showers that used to come quite regularly after the dinner hour. It was just enough rain to soak the yard, and though it cooled off the temperature a bit, it left the air thick and sultry.
I would sit with my grandmother on her front porch to watch the rain, and one evening, she told me a story about my dad when he was a toddler. They lived on a farm, and one afternoon as a fierce rain poured on their house, my grandmother could not locate him. She frantically searched the house, calling his name, and as she sprang out the front door to search outside, she found him sitting alone on the top step of the porch. His elbows were on his knees, and his chin was resting on his knuckles.
Relieved, she asked him what he was doing. “Just watching it yain,” he replied. (He had not yet mastered the ‘r’ sound.) I also remember my other grandmother’s porch fondly. Before she died, she lived for over twenty years in Tara Apartments on the east side of Athens, and her apartment had a long front porch, painted white with black rod iron railings. It was a perfect setting for her ferns, geraniums, and other plants. I liked to help her water the plants with a little watering tin she saved just for me.
I think one of the reasons I love the South so much is because of the big porches. When I lived in Athens, I rented an old mill house with a lovely porch and swing that I used often. When my husband and I were looking for a house of our own, a front porch was a prerequisite, and we’ve been happy with our selection. We sit there in the evenings when the weather permits, and when we have guests, it’s a favorite hangout.
After living in Georgia for several years, I noticed how many of these lovely, Southern porches have blue ceilings. I thought it was a lovely touch, so I always wanted to paint my porch ceiling blue. You can imagine my delight when after mentioning this, my father-in-law volunteered to paint my porch ceiling blue.
I looked up the reason why porch ceilings are painted blue and learned that in the South Carolina Lowcountry, people used to believe that blue paint kept the “haints” or spirits away. Some people say it gives them the feeling of sitting under the sky, and other people believe that blue paint keeps the bugs away. Although one site I read said this wasn’t true, I have to disagree. Ever since we painted our porch ceiling blue, we have had less bugs and wasps on our porch.
After seeing my blue porch ceiling, my aunt and uncle decided to paint their porch ceilings blue. I asked my aunt if she noticed a difference, and she said their bug problem has greatly improved. So, blue paint may not keep all the bugs away, but I do think it helps.
I’m looking forward to that next rain when I can sit under my blue porch ceiling, coffee cup in hand, alone – maybe someday when my boys go off to college.
Shelli Bond Pabis is a Winder resident and columnist for the Barrow Journal. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.