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Old houses possess a mysterious ability to render vulnerable people like me incapable of clear thinking. Years ago, I succumbed without resistance to the all-powerful charm of a 145-year-old home in the village of Sandwich on Cape Cod.  All it took was two steps across the front porch, one step through the front door, and two echoing steps into the front hallway of an empty building.

Oblivious to the disrepair of a neglected home unlived in for two years, I was blind to chipped paint, torn wallpaper, broken doors and cigarette-stained ceilings. The standing cast iron radiators that once heated ten rooms didn't work, nor did any appliance. No matter. Walking slowly through the house, I was dazzled by generous, harmonious proportions, good light, and exciting details. Here were big rooms with tall ceilings, large windows, and floors laid with wide, seasoned pumpkin pine boards. Here were crown moldings, a working fireplace with a mantel, a black faux marble fireplace front, pressed glass doorknobs, and two kitchen pantries.  I was in love.  

We bought the house in that ghastly condition and spent a year making it habitable for two boys and their parents. The eldest child sensibly balked and threatened to run away from home at the prospect of living there, it was haunted, he said.  It was not and never has been, but we all slept poorly that first night, secretly worried he might be right. The most likely candidate would have been our old English setter Chips who died while we were working on the house.  We buried him out back, so he was the first to officially move in. 


In the 40 years I’ve lived here, still enamored, still charmed, I've had a personal relationship with this large, warm, embracing house. I have been its caretaker and it has been mine. So, I say with authority that one part of this house stands distinct and apart from the rest. More a space than a room, it has played a role in all important and ordinary things that have occurred during my occupancy here, and, undoubtedly, throughout the previous two centuries as well. 


                                           This book is dedicated to telling the story of this place: my front porch.


Said and Done: A Writer's Blog
Stories and Reflections

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