Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Dining Al Fresco

When we first moved to our house last summer, one of the people who helped us move remarked on how the front porch looked like a café. He said, "You should put a table and chairs out here. I'd eat every meal out here."

It would have been a good time to buy some furniture, as the end of summer sales were heating up. But I was worried about covering the bills, so we didn't.

I was most attracted to a bar height table--we already have one of those, a beautiful teak table. The bar stools that go with it aren't designed for outdoor use. But back in May, we needed to get that furniture out of the way, so finally, an outdoor eating space for the front porch!

Some people think it's too hot to eat outside down here for much of the year. But we've been enjoying the space on all but the steamiest days.

For one thing, it's shaded. So even on days when I wouldn't want to sit in the sun, the front porch is pleasant. And unlike other southern states where I've lived, we often have a good breeze direct from the sea.

One morning I took my breakfast out on the porch. I didn't have much time, but I took a few minutes to enjoy my poached eggs and toast with the sun streaming through the arches.

For the most part, we've enjoyed our evening meals al fresco. We coat ourselves with bug spray because even our homemade citronella candles aren't enough to repel mosquitoes. We open a bottle of wine and relax.

My favorite times are when it's raining. We're lucky to have a deep enough porch that it's the rare rain that drives us inside.

When I was in grad school, one of our apartments was on the edge of one of the most beautiful parts of town, Shandon. I would take long, rambling walks through the neighborhood and marvel at the beautiful front porches. I rarely saw anyone using their front porch, and I always wondered why you'd create a beautiful space and leave it unused.

I still wonder. There are seasons in South Carolina where it would be wonderful to take a book to the front porch rocker. I never saw anyone do that.

I think of my grandmother's front porch, which was just a bit smaller than mine. She'd have never eaten out there, but we spent many an evening watching the sun set and the shadows lengthen. We'd sit out there in the afternoon shucking corn and snapping beans.

She didn't have the glamorous furniture of upscale neighborhoods, but she showed how an aluminum and webbing lawn chair was just as good. And so far, my furniture designed for indoor use has survived the transition to the porch. I'm hoping we'll have many more years to dine al fresco. I'm hoping that our neighbors don't think it's tacky.

It's getting to be the time of year when more people move their entertaining back outside, for a few weeks/months.  I must confess that during the month of August and September, when our weather was particularly steamy, we have moved inside too.  Now, I'm hoping to have more opportunities for outdoor dining.

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