We live in Astoria's oldest neighborhood, just outside of the original fort built over 200 years ago when trading followed the Lewis & Clark expedition. It's lined with Victorian homes and a few later additions built on vacant lots or to replace a home destroyed by fire. We are halfway down the lea side of a hill that runs down to the Columbia River.
We live in a four-square Victorian, so called because every floor including the basement has the same square feet of space. It isn't elegant, just comfortable, and has fussy old moldings and two half-columns in the living room.
What I love best about the house is a front porch that runs the width of the house. Here, again, there are columns at each corner, and spindle railings. We have a wooden glider (the swing, not the airplane) in front of the window. One particular slat along the back has been reduced to toothpick width by a long succession of cats. In front of it is an old table bought at a church rummage sale that was supposed to be for Ron's studio to hold still lifes, but was commandeered for the porch the first time we had tea out there and was just never brought back in.
The women in our neighborhood and a few other friends meet regularly for girls' night out. I had to miss last week because Ron wasn't well and I was afraid to leave him. So everyone met as usual, then on Friday night, brought pizza, salad, and other goodies to our front porch. Barb set up two long skinny tables covered with red and white checked tablecloths and two bouquets of daisies from her garden. Her husband, Steve, made a salad and Curt, who often takes us to doctor's appointments, went all over town getting the kind of pizza everyone preferred. In honor of the occasion, I brought out to the porch a twig settee that lives in the dining room but is seldom used. It's covered in pillows, on one of which is embroidered, 'Writers never go to bed alone.' My agent sent it to me ages ago.
If you don't live in an area where it rains five days out of seven from October to May, it's hard to appreciate what a sunny evening on a front porch means. We said grace, we chowed down, then we sat until dark talking and laughing and realizing what a precious moment in time it was. We all enjoy each other's company so much and try to find excuses to party together as often as we can, but there never does seem to be enough time. We run from jobs to home, taking care of the hundreds of demands, large and small, that take up our time. But this summer evening, the blessing of free time enveloped our front porch - and some of the world's nicest people.
Life is good.