You learn a lot sitting on a porch-gallery-deck
Willis Webb

I f you began life “out in the country,” six or seven decades ago, sitting on the front porchgaller y- deck was considered relaxing and educational.

You notice that there are three terms given in the previous sentence to describe this protrusion from our house. What you might call it depends on a number of factors: 1) your age, 2) the age of the house, 3) where it is located, 4) how it is constructed and 5) its uses.

Often, city dwellers don’t have much in the way of a porch-gallery deck. They may have an enclosed area which consists partially of either screens or louvered plexiglass sections to allow sun and/or breezes to enter. Those designs might qualify as a porch or sun room but definitely aren’t galleries or decks.

Because our residence is in a rural area, is located on a river bank and sits on concrete and steel posts 11 feet off the ground, we tend to call these mostly uncovered areas “decks.” I suppose it could also be a subconscious thing because our house reminds us of a paddle-wheeler riverboat, thus a deck instead of a porch. Older country folks might call them galleries. When I was growing up, several grandparents and some aunts and uncles farmed and lived “out in the country.” When anyone visited these country relatives, they were invited to sit out on the gallery, particularly in the spring, summer and early fall. With no air-conditioning, it was cooler, particularly if there was even a hint of a breeze.

Galleries were like a second living room or den, where visitors (known then as “company”) were entertained. Conversation ran the gamut of farming, gardening, raising cows or hogs or horses, family and “motoring to town” to visit, shop or see the doctor.

When company comes to our house now, we’re inclined to sit inside where we can soak up the air-conditioning or heating because that’s the way or custom of the last couple of generations. Occasionally, we sit on some bench swings suspended from the underside of the house. One of the swings was a gift from my in-laws and the top board has burned or carved into it, “Willis’ Exercise Machine.” This was in “honor” of our visits to their house where I immediately got into their bench swing and swung myself into a nap.

Most deck-sittin’ here is done by me and our pet, Sawyer, The Famous River Wonder Dog. And, the majority of that is on the front deck where the action is. The back deck, which has a tree growing up through the middle of it (much to the dog’s pleasure), overlooks the river where there is little that interests Sawyer. However, the barbecue grill is on the back deck and on occasions when that is in use, he shows a keen interest.

All the action is on the front deck where, across the county blacktop, the dog and I can watch farming activity in the fields at planting or harvesting time, or we can monitor the road traffic, which includes farm equipment, trucks pulling noisy trailers, motorcycles, bicycles, joggers and walkers. One vehicle in particular, an 18-wheeler milk truck that daily picks up from a dairy across the river, really gets the dog’s attention. In all those cases, I’m an observer and Sawyer is the arbiter of noise pollution or if anyone or anything appears it might encroach on his, er, I mean our territory.

Mild disturbances will bring about some growling and barking and a whirling dervish spin-move that ends with rearing up on his back legs and lunging in the general direction of the intruders. However, if the intruder is more sizable or extremely noisy, Sawyer will leave the comforts of the deck, race down the stairs and along the front fence to the corner where he repeats the dervish move, only with much more dramatic flair and fiercer barks.

In all those instances, I will put down whatever I’m reading and applaud. It’s better entertainment than TV. Plus, Sawyer loves the praise.

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2011-01-20 digital edition

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