COLUMN
It was always meant to be

Published 6:36 am Thursday, March 10, 2022

Last summer, when our back porch was finally finished, we couldn’t imagine our house without it.

We have lived in this house for exactly 31 years this month. Our decision to purchase this house was made based on its proximity to an elementary school. We thought we had scored a real find, and we had, as the house is on the same side of the street as the school. I can stand at the end of our driveway and see the front door of the school. We had three children, the oldest of which was in Kindergarten. If for no other reason than this, the location was perfect. If we were home during the school day, we could hear children playing at recess while we sat on our patio.

But we didn’t have a patio. We had a picnic table and some chairs. I like sitting outside as much as anybody, but I really prefer a surface other than grass under my feet.

I do not remember the exact date, but I know it was very early in the tenure of our home ownership when I decided we would have a patio. We also did not have a back door to serve as a natural portal to the patio. However, that was no deterrent to me and my plan. We could simply walk out the side door onto the carport and there is the backyard. A door is a door. Our last house also did not have a back door. It was no problem to build a deck with a walkway around from the side door. We could figure this out.

But a patio is not the same as a deck. I had it in my head that this house needed a patio. Patios are not built above ground. A patio is part of the landscape, not the house.

The design of the patio and the materials were pondered for a bit until I discovered in the back of the yard, hidden by an overgrowth of bushes, a pile of bricks that must have been there for quite some time. To my delight, the bricks matched our house, well most of them did. Amongst the remnants of a long past renovation, there were many bricks of a different color and nature.

Altogether there were, by my calculations, enough bricks to lay a patio.

And so, I began.

I hired a man with a piece of mechanical equipment to prepare the foundation. With the future in mind, I asked him to pile the dirt over on the side. This pile led to our first fish pond. After it settled, I could easily dig out the middle of the mound by myself, throw in a liner, fill it with water, rig up a filtration system, put in a few fish, restock the fish each time something ate them, fiddle with the filter system, adjust the water quality…really a fish pond is quite a process and investment of time.

Turning my attention back to the patio story, I had a vision. The patio would be round. The bricks would be placed in concentric circles formed by laying the bricks side by side in a complete circle. For the next row in, the bricks would be placed end to end all the way around. This pattern would be repeated until the center was reached.

Honestly, I didn’t have a plan for the center. Clearly, the bricks weren’t going to end up all neat and even in the center. Geometrically impossible. I figured I would worry about that when I got there. There might even be something in the yard that would fill in the hole. I was right on both accounts. The bricks did not meet anywhere close to the proposed center, but I scavenged nice big, flat rocks from here and there to fill the bill.

I had a patio and a fish pond.

As the years proceeded, I accumulated another pile of bricks and flat rocks from yard work, and friends with stray bricks and more sense than I have. The result is a double circular patio. I am done with patio building. I have exhausted all my reserves of bricks and rocks. If I unearth a stray brick now, I am tempted to throw it some distance lest I go off on another tangent.

What does this patio building saga have to do with the new porch? Well, when we excavated the very first patio foundation, I placed it 14 feet from the back of the house. I planted shrubs and flowers two feet around it.

Because someday we were going to build a back porch with a back door and steps to the patio(s).

And someday, we did. It took nearly 30 years to get there, but we did. I accumulated random furniture, stained glass windows, leftover windows from renovations, glass and doors stored in the basement from before we even moved here until the day came for building the back porch. It is just the right finish for our house.

I can’t imagine the house without it.