The Porch Light is On

We first saw our house on an August evening seven years ago. We knew it wasn't available, and our looking felt just for fun.

It was an ideal time to see the house, being one of those golden Summer evenings. We stepped onto the the covered front porch and immediately felt drawn to the house. Rhododendron bushes offered privacy and a huge sugar maple made it feel like a forested room.

Then we noticed the porch swing. I think we might have all fallen in love right at that moment. I imagined playing out on the porch with Olivia, who was then four, and Aaron, eleven months, waiting for Michael to come home from work.

We wondered if the swing came with the house.

Months later, after Christmas, the house became ours, and yes, the porch swing stayed. Aaron loved that swing. I spent many hours over the next six Summers swinging with him on my lap.

In addition to the swing, there was a porch light that I loved for its character. It didn't seem to go with the house at all, yet it had a certain quirky charm about it. I never wanted it removed despite it's broken glass.

Last year it finally stopped working and we took it down. It was covered in layers of dirt. This November we brought it to an antique lighting restorer, having no idea of the lamp's history.

We believed the metal was cast iron and simply needed cleaning. Only one of the four floral ornaments on the top was intact. We spent a long Saturday in the shop while he inspected our encrusted, cobwebbed light. He broke the glass fully to remove it, keeping a piece for himself. We hunted through several rooms of shelving with glass canisters trying to find a replacement. Nothing fit or looked right. He found a piece of mica that he wanted to try.

Months and many conversations later, we picked up the light last Saturday. The lantern wasn't cast iron after all, but copper that had at some point been painted black. The paint was removed, new top ornaments were made to match as closely as possible the one remaining original. The mica had been a good choice and turned out to be historically appropriate.

Michael installed it on Saturday, and we love how it looks. The mica gives off a soft glow in the dark. The copper will weather over time, but we're not exactly sure how. Hopefully no one will cover it up with paint decades from now.

Last Spring we used our porch to a degree that we never have since moving in. It became the place our visitors gathered when coming to express their condolences. We had plants of all types, flowers from friends' gardens and trays for coffee and cold drinks. Candles, wine glasses and beer bottles were still on the table in the mornings. The chairs and stools changed in configuration depending upon the last guests. The swing was often used as extra seating.

It feels good now to restore something. It's our way of saying that we want what came before to be part of our days.

This is a strong, solid old house with a simple elegance. It has a past known only to us in unexplained details. We have without design added our own weighty history.

With good care our footsteps will remain illuminated.