By Lorys Crisafulli
Every year we mark our calendar when we have our first meal on the back porch.
This year it was February.
My granddaughter, age 4, who lives in San Francisco, was so thrilled with all the snow in the backyard that she was eating the dry bread I had given her to feed the birds. When I realized she was that hungry, I suggested we go inside for lunch.
She had on so many clothes and big boots to remove that we both thought, "Why don't we eat out here?"
In no time I had the old standards ready - PBJs and tomato soup. Caroline enjoyed that meal as much as the birds enjoyed theirs.
Who said a picnic could only be held in the summer?
My porch has seen all kinds of parties, sales and just good conversation: this in addition to the fact that we have eaten most of our meals there from April to October.
Why does ordinary food taste better when eaten outdoors?
Of course there have been many card games, watermelon seed spitting contests and just rocking in the mismatched chairs out there.
Neighbors seem to enjoy showing up there from around the corner of the house. After something cold to drink, or a cup of coffee and a half hour or so of catching up with neighborhood news, we all go back to what we were doing.
Birdwatching is another pastime - the variety of feathered friends is endless and it seems as if every year we get visitors that were never there before. This year it was a family of pileated woodpeckers. Papa was so enormous and so ungainly that he was fascinating to watch.
We don't have a birdbath, but instead a plastic 3-inch-deep cake pan that all the critters drink from - rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks and even the groundhogs get thirsty.
The best thing of all was to watch a robin flapping around in the freshly-filled pan. That bird was in robin heaven.
The porch is not always a calm, restful place. We have had a "Pink Panther Party" with everyone dressed in PINK - even underwear. The Hawaiian Luau was a hit and so was the "Dress as a Tourist Party."
One of our best times was when our friend, Louisa, entertained us with her belly dancing routine. She was as funny as she was sexy, and when her snake, Houdini, got into the act we all got involved. The men enjoyed learning how to "shake their booties." Some of them even let Houdini sit on their heads.
If you have a porch there should never be an excuse to be bored. Just say "Hi" from there to a passerby and you will have a half-hour of pleasure.
The next event there will be to celebrate the completion of a calendar called the "Lads and Ladies of the Mon." It features 24 well-known men and women from the Monongahela, Pa., area whom have posed and laughed their ways through 12 months of hilarity.
For the 2008 calendar, "The Ladies of the Mon," we were photographed and interviewed by the Inside Edition TV show, KDKA, WPXI, WTAE and WQED on the now-famous back porch. We were even forever preserved in a segment that won an Emmy for WQED producer David Solomon.
The porch has not coordinated with the latest in well-designed furniture. There's a wicker sofa, a 1920s wooden rocker, redwood furniture painted white, other rockers of indistinct vintage and a kitchen table. But who cares?
We are ready to enjoy another evening on the porch.