July and August have many “sweat days” for those of us who walk, even early in the morning. I can sweat with the best of them and am soaking wet as I get home after my walks along Wildcat Boulevard.

July and August have many “sweat days” for those of us who walk, even early in the morning. I can sweat with the best of them and am soaking wet as I get home after my walks along Wildcat Boulevard.
The ultimate compliment a retired English teacher can have is for a former student to continue writing into adulthood. As I was walking last week, I was thinking about these “kids” who write one morning. Recently, one of my former students brought me a copy of an article she had published in a magazine.
The article began: “My dogs announce that someone is here, and I go to look out the front door. The kids look scared when they arrive; they always look scared. They are being reassured by their caseworker, who says, ‘This family is very nice. They have pets and other kids for you to play with. I think you are going to like it here.’
“I go out to the front porch, the place of introduction, where I meet my children. Not in a hospital nursery or an adoption agency office—but here on my front porch. The dogs file out, smelling and whining, and the other children pour out or peek from the windows, wondering, ‘Who is here? What do they look like? What color are they? Are they big or small? Do they look mean.’
 “I try to look welcoming and nice. I try not to overwhelm them with names and rules. I just ask them to come on in and set down their things. Sometimes they have no things. Just come on in, these children of mine.”
This former student and author of this article and her husband have eight children, a mix of  their own, adopted, and a guardianship. The article is about some of their experiences with foster children and is titled “The Front Porch Children.”
A few years ago, county and western singer Tracy Lawrence had a hit song “If the World had a Front Porch.” In the lyrics were references to swings, crocheting, making homemade ice cream, puppies born under, fights, watching the stars, counting lightning bugs, learning to play guitar, hearing whippoorwills, and a yellow bulb porch light.  
“Treatin’ your neighbor like he was next of kin” was the key message of the song. No wonder it was popular.
My mind then turned to recalling how our porch was used when I was a kid. The dog always stayed on the front porch waiting for someone to come out of the house, so she would tag along.
Our dog ate there, took her naps there, and patrolled the yard from the porch.
We used the porch to snap green beans and shuck English peas. We would husk fresh ears of corn and then cut off the sticky corn kernels for canning or freezing.
Here we would greet our guests and go out with them when they left after a visit. Many times the men would go sit on the porch to talk during visits or family gatherings.
A front porch is a warm and welcoming place. It is a place with room for a flower box filled with purple petunias and a place to welcome all who pass.
Take a walk, enjoy your front porch memories, use those signal lights, watch for pedestrians who wear dark clothing, and see what you notice while passing along Wildcat Boulevard.  
 

Russell Hively writes a weekly column for the Daily News.