Who doesn’t love the romance and attractiveness of a veranda? I have always been fascinated with homes with verandas, whether they are small ones on cabins, magnificent specimens such as those on plantations in the Old South, or attractive wraparounds gracing well built homes of today and days gone by.
A veranda came into my life at the age of 19. I was out for a walk one crisp autumn day and chanced to discover a very old farmhouse on a lane branching off a secondary roadway. The homestead bordered my father’s farm property in Raynardton, a picturesque rural village approximately 14 miles from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. The unoccupied house was perched atop a hill, surrounded by fields of unmown hay, and edged by woodland. Apple trees lined the fields, their abundant fruits of red and yellow indicating a bountiful harvest. Below the hill a lake shimmered in the fading sun, heralding day’s end. But what really caught my eye was the veranda. It was tucked in on the east-facing portion of the house. I decided then and there that I wanted that house. At age 20 I purchased the homestead, complete with 150 acres of land bordering two lakes. I have never regretted that decision.
In the ensuing years that simple farmhouse veranda has brought me, and all that seek its shelter, many enjoyable hours. An antique Victorian rocker was placed on one end of the veranda with its backdrop of lofty hollyhocks. They are old-fashioned flowers that offer so much enjoyment in late summer with their pastel and vivid hues, made even more noticeable by the multitude of bees constantly buzzing in their quest for nectar from each flower. Hummingbirds put on a beautiful aerial display as they fly in and out to visit the feeder suspended overhead, the gregarious male with his crimson gorget glistening in the sun as he terrorizes any other bird that dares use his feeder! The wind chimes hanging above are a delight to hear, not only while resting on the veranda, but sometimes signalling a storm when I hear them from within the house and the wind is from the East.
Along the driveway leading to the house, a row of stately Lombardy poplars provide a windbreak and necessary shade. Sentinel Norway pines line the edge of the lawns created from former hayfields. How well I recall mowing the expansive lawns with a gas-powered mower. Usually when the mower quit, so did I, retiring to the welcoming shade and solitude of the veranda. Leaning back in the rocker, exhausted, sipping a cold lemonade, I’d delight in its cool resplendent freshness. I would drink in the multitude of sounds that nature had to offer from my position – the rustling of the poplar leaves in the summer breeze, the tinkle of the wind chimes, the whirring of the hummingbirds, and the constant buzzing of all the bees in the hollyhocks.
Breakfasts were a delight on the veranda. The start of a new day brings a myriad of nature sounds –the crisp, sweet song of the white-throated sparrow with its, “Pure sweet Canada, Canada, Canada”, or, if you prefer, “Old Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody”, one of the most treasured of bird sounds. A doe deer and twin fawns often graze at the edge of the woodland. She is quite accustomed to me now. Years ago a young black bear sat on his haunches under a small apple tree, lazily stripping the apples from its branches, crunching away at them, one of many humanistic tendencies which I notice in bears from time to time, and very amusing. I named him “Crunch and Munch”.
Noon brings its own rewards on the veranda, but, in the fading shadows of twilight, signalling day’s end, I hear the crystal-throated call of a solitary hermit thrush. That, to me, is the most blessed sound of all from the veranda.
Thirty years after my acquisition of this simple farmhouse with its plain veranda, I discovered a very old sepia photograph of a stately lady standing on a veranda, one arm wrapped around the veranda post, and a hammock and book nearby. That lady, I was to learn later, was my great-grandmother. Gazing at the picture, I could see similarities to myself in her face and stature. As I studied the picture, I wondered how life in the 1800’s was for her, no doubt much more difficult than mine.
I only hope that my great-grandmother enjoyed the absolute peace and tranquility of her veranda as much as I do mine today.