In the Smoky Mountain culture the front porch holds quite a special place of honor. It is where we go to escape for a moment and find peace, where we reconnect with friends and family, where we marvel at the amazing creation that surrounds us. It is a place that connects us to the past and prepares us for our future.
Though the pace of life here in the mountains is much more relaxed than the more urban culture I recently left, that does not mean the day is without its stress. The front porch is the place to go for a much needed moment of relaxation. Sitting on a rocking chair I can hear the bird’s songs as they bounce from tree to tree, smell the scent of wood smoke mixed with the sweetness of honeysuckle creating that classic Smoky Mountain perfume, and hear soft conversations from out of site neighbors as they drift softly up to my ears. Sipping on a steaming cup of coffee or a perfectly chilled Chardonnay I find myself completely at peace and fully in the moment. The time spent on the porch is not time used to plan, worry over, or rework my schedule; I am not mulling over the missteps of yesterday or trying to foresee the challenges of tomorrow. I am simply rocking and drinking in the sights, smells, and sounds of the moment. That is how the front porch brings me peace.
However, the front porch is not always a quiet place. Often it is filled with the wonderful, boisterous hum of friends and family. On the front porch there is no TV to distract you and the conversation is so engaging the phones are forgotten on the side tables. When surrounded by the people we enjoy and love most I find that laughter is inevitable and contagious. One story always leads to another and the fish tales always get a little longer with the retelling. We reminisce over old shared memories and create new ones in the process. These gatherings are also where we learn some of the most important lessons. The narratives our elders share are full of adventure and hilarity, but also reveal their life triumphs and mistakes. From their accounts we connect with our history and culture, and we imbibe the wisdom earned through their experiences.
The front porch is also the perfect vantage point to take in the beauty of the surrounding Smoky Mountains. I love to wake up in the morning and watch the fog recede, revealing peak after peak. The break of day paints the scene with cool azure and violet, each mountain draped in its own shade. Sunsets light the skies with fiery tones and coat the landscape in cobalt blue hues. Each day brings its own spectacular display, none identical to the next. The seasons also bring their exquisite changes. Spring ushers the forest into full vigor, drenching the plants with blooms. I especially enjoy blossoming rhododendron spread with bright purple pompoms of flowers. Summer covers the slopes with thick verdure; everything looks so alive and vibrant. Soon the leaves are peppered with orange, yellow, and red. Autumnal colors soon envelop all of the trees and it is quite a sight to behold. Finally, winter arrives and brings with it the season for hot cocoa, snowflakes, and the most spectacular views now unimpeded by foliage. No matter the time of day or season of the year the front porch offers an incredible glimpse of the splendor of the Great Smoky Mountains.
Next time you come to visit our beloved Smokies remember to spend some time on the front porch. Relax, have fun, and enjoy the view. It will be time well spent.