May 6, 2001

Back to The Porch

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Picture this:

A place where the bright summer sun shines on people who are happy to go nowhere and take their time getting there.

A place where knowledge and myths are passed down from generation to generation, with each age group adding to the stock of both.

A place where 20-some-odd kids can go tramping through various households, and every child can call each house home.

A place where those same 20-some-odd kids don’t really make a distinctions between “family” and “friend.”

A place where the young and the old stop whatever they are doing to spend time with each other as the evening sun cools down and the kitchen grill warms up.

A place where the water is so clear you can see the sandy bottom 20 feet beneath you.

A place where the nights are so quiet and the stars so bright, that it is difficult to imagine that anyone beyond the group of people you are talking with exists.

These places exist.

On the porch of a small red and white cottage on Crystal Lake I learned to laugh, to love and to live.

On the porch of a home on Walloon Lake I learned to think, to work and to live.

My life has been shaped to a significant part by conversations I have had with family and friends on those two porches. My values and beliefs were formed on those porches.

Five is the ideal number of people I would like to converse with on those porches. On one, a grandfather now gone, three uncles and me. On the other, two grandparents I never really knew, a sister, a father and me. Just once, I’d like to hear what they all had to say.

This column was written with them in mind. I just hoped they would have enjoyed it.


You the reader were also a big part of this column. I hope I gave you something to talk about, maybe even while sitting on your own porch in Collegetown with your friends. If nothing else, I hope you found it a worthwhile use of five minutes. Beyond that, there is little I could hope to achieve. Thanks for reading.


As a graduating senior, I have a lot of people to thank. After all, I certainly haven’t made it through 21+ years, including four at Cornell, on my own.

I thank Scottie, Josh, Ben, the Stropes and the Hansens for helping me to think of life outside of Grand Ledge. And I thank Jeff, Arlene, Emily, Big Chris G., CF and the rest of the fine people at JAM Music for treating me like family every time I go home.

To Professor Sturgeon, who changed my life with a freshman writing seminar, and was always willing to talk with me for a few minutes when I was on campus. And to Professor Irwin, who in the past two semesters has challenged my abilities, in addition to being a great guide through 2500 years of thought.

To the coaches and athletes I have covered over the four years. Special thanks go to Pete Mangurian, Ricky Rahne, Joe Splendorio, Dan Weyandt, Mike Schafer ’86, Matt Underhill, Stephen B