When we moved to Knoxville, Tenn. from our apartment outside Naples, Italy, Maurizio and I were charmed by the white picket fence and white wooden porch of our new house. The reality of upkeep dawned soon enough. Surprise! Mildew creeps over white paint and must be bleached off. The paint itself must be redone by homeowners or those well-paid by homeowners. Porches must be regularly swept and washed. Who knew? The big drama were the painted steps. Truly dangerous when iced in winter or covered by wet leaves in the fall, stained by said leaves, cracked by the summer sun, clearly paint wasn’t working. “Scary” was a word oft used by our friends. Not a welcoming feature of one’s home.
“Mix sand with the paint,” said a painter. Wrong. The paint still cracked and got filthy because it shredded any cleaning cloth. I presented my problem at our local hardware store guru, brandishing a brochure showing a glistening painted wooden porch. “Why can’t ours look like this?” With the Buddha-like calm which the profession entails, he said somberly, “Ma’am, if you want grandma’s front porch, you’re married to the project.”
Ah. To be a tad less married, I had composite material stairs put in and a ADA-approved handrail installed (you never know). Painters do the painting, I sweep and rinse regularly and a few times a year wash down the whole, a tedious but meditative project. I’ve had a painted front porch now more than half the years we’ve been married. Of course being married to a good person of whichever or the same sex has, not to put too fine a point on it, many more advantages than being married to a painted porch. But I have to say that on a sunny summer day, a freshly washed porch is very nice.
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