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The Joy of Porches and Guests

Every morning, spring, summer, fall, and winter, I sit on my front porch in my wicker rocker to drink my coffee. And every morning I take at least two photographs with the same settings of the same views. It’s kind of like an innkeeper recording the guests that pass through your doors. Now, you ask, what do photos of a front porch view have to do with guests? I see it like this.

If you were to casually look at any random sampling of the pictures I take every morning, you might not see anything particularly interesting. It’s the same view, day after day. If you looked at enough, you’d see that there are different seasons. And once in a while there’s a foggy morning that makes for a dreamy picture, and fall shows off some dramatic colors. But taken in their entirety, especially in chronological order, you can watch the seasons change before your eyes, and the small differences (and sometimes more impressive ones) of the mornings start to form a picture of what it’s like to have coffee on my front porch, what it looks like in my small corner of Virginia.

Your guests are a lot like those morning images. Individually, the majority of them are sort of like every other guest that you routinely host and make every effort to provide a good experience. After a while, it’s hard to distinguish one from the other, but they are the essential part of the fabric of your Innkeeping experience. There are those especially colorful guests who, like a beautiful autumn morning, are memorable, and you welcome them back with joy in your heart because they are, well, so beautiful and wonderful! They are your friends! And, of course, once in a while you get that horrid guest that sticks in your memory that you hope never to see again. They are like my pictures of snow piled high in my yard this winter! Rare, but they are also a part of the fabric of your experience.

So, when the time comes that I put together a montage of photos from my front porch that shows the passing of the years, the changing of the seasons, with the stunning images in amongst the many ordinary and the few I’d rather forget, it will be like you, an Innkeeper, reflecting on your time spent caring for the travelers who pass through your threshold. And in that moment you’ll realize that even the most ordinary and unmemorable of guests made up the largest part of your experience, punctuated by the divas and aggravated by the PITA’s. And you will be gratified to remember that you treated them all well, because without them, you would never have been an Innkeeper.


11 Responses to “The Joy of Porches and Guests”

  1. Very well said Peter! I love my guests, and they love my porch…

  2. I really like your Front Porch article and pictures! You are so correct!

  3. bob guertin says:

    Inkeeping is an ancient profession,going back before the birth of Christ.It is truely a priveledge to minister to the travellers.Not the money,but the guests are the payoff for us.Here’s to porches.

  4. Linda Hayes says:

    Very nicely said!

  5. MICHAEL KING says:

    I’v read your article and it tells a story of you life liberty and the pursuit of some of the same happeness I which to experience. It’s like having a home with the doors open to all of God’s children.

  6. Peter…It is with a tender heart that I read your lovely thoughts regarding your front porch and the passage of time. Having just sold my Copper Lantern Inn, down here in the beautiful Highlands of Virginia, I find myself wistfully yearning for my porch again- for the very reasons you have captured so well. I, too, was drawn to sit peacefuuly in solitary reflection on the wide front porch, admiring God’s handiwork in the changing of the seasons. I never tired of catching the reflection of the American flag flying proudly in front, mirrored back through the glass print in my Virginia Pub dining room, giving thanks for the privilege of living here and welcoming so many into my home. It was a special time in my life, and I am grateful for it. It is gone now- changing as we speak- and I will miss it, but be glad for the fellowship shared. Your view- and your views- are priceless. Thank you for sharing them with us.
    Sincerely, Ann Brooks Johnson

  7. Peter, thank you for describing so well what we are blessed to have. It makes me step back and reflect and take a little more time to ‘smell the roses’, which are in bloom all over right now. Beautiful article.

  8. Nancy Moncrief says:

    Well, they say great minds think alike… My blog was going to be “Power of the Porch” this week, but I am now am holding off. I decided I can do that one later. My porch is my moment of calm in the midst of the frenzy that all of us experience in life – 5 minutes out there does the trick. Thanks for reminding us all that it is a simple act that makes life wonderful.

  9. Rick Wolf says:

    You’re so right about the simple acts that make life wonderful. Jan and I have a great porch and relish every moment on it…but as you know…we also love yours too!

  10. Thanks to all who have commented on this. As Nancy Moncrief at Candlelight Inn says, it’s just a few minutes of calm that make all the difference. For many years when I was a young man, I had a farm in Costa Rica. Back then, the time I spent milking my cows (by hand!) in the dawn hours served for that calm start to the day. Now it’s coffee on the front porch. What do others do to get centered? We’d love to hear.

  11. Very beautiful Peter.
    We are in our 5th year as Innkeepers of this 1794 home. A porch was one thing we had to have.
    It is like a look back in time when a couple dressed in Civil War costom sip their coffee early on a July morning setting on the porch.
    Thank you so much.

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