The Front Porch Challenge by Blair Bryant

GRANITE FALLS, NC (March 12, 2021) — When I think about the good times in my life, not one of them involved a cell phone.  The good times included the people I care about and the simple times we spent together.  Many of these wonderful memories took place on a front porch.  That was the place where I really got to know people, and I also got an education.

My father is the source of many of my listening pleasures.  He is a veteran who served many years in the U.S. Navy.  I like to sit outside with him and his retired friends and listen to old Navy stories.  My father has traveled the world and seen it all, and he really knows how to tell about his travels.  I’ve never seen Europe or rode the rough waters of the north Atlantic, but I have a clear picture of what those things must be like, thanks to Dad’s great stories.  Of course, Dad’s friends join in with their own tales.  They like to talk about the way things used to be and the old back dirt roads.  They reminisce about walking everywhere and hoping a car would come along, so they could hitch a ride.  Though those days are gone, it’s nice to know about them and how people lived back then.

My grandparents were also amazing storytellers.  I used to go to their house in the tiny Appalachian mountain village of Todd and spend evenings with them on their front porch.  They had a creek that ran through the front yard, and we would sit out on the porch and talk for hours as we looked out at the swift water.  I can still see my grandfather with his cowboy hat and no-filter Lucky Strikes.  He and my grandmother talked about when the train came through Todd, and how Todd was once a thriving town that was bigger than Boone.  I learned all about the history of Todd.  That is knowledge that isn’t in any history book.  They also talked about our family history, and I was so thankful to learn about my people and where we came from.  And what I cherish most is the fact that I really got to know my grandparents.

File Photo

Though my grandparents have passed on, I still have great aunts and uncles to carry on the tales.  I was lucky enough to spend some time with them in the mountains last October.  We all sat outside in the yard on a beautiful autumn evening until almost dark. My grandfather’s brothers, Tom and Haskell, told some great stories, and I’m sure some of those tales will end up in my next book.  I was so content as I sat and listened, and I soon realized how meaningful that time was.

As spring and good weather arrive, I think we should all challenge ourselves to spend at least two hours a week on the front porch with people we care about.  It doesn’t even have to be a front porch.  It can be a patio, carport, or just chairs on the lawn.  I think we will all relax, laugh, and learn.  And most importantly – leave the cell phones inside!

Blair Bryant, freelance writer
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