Welcome Home, Part 4: The Florida Room

I hope this doesn’t offend anyone, but before I came to Florida, I thought that screened-in porches were just a really ugly way to obscure the entrance to your house, and make it seem dark, spooky, and forbidden. However, when I saw the screened-in porch at our new house, I changed my mind.

It reminded me a little of those gorgeous soaring aviaries in the San Diego zoo. And yes, my first thought was that we could get a pet sugar glider and keep it out there (Florida’s rules on exotic pets are much more relaxed than California’s). Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you ask Tony), our landlord won’t let us have any pets other than Axa’s birthday betta.

I had never seen a porch like this before, but in Florida they are very common. I think it’s because of the pervasive insects, which are theoretically kept out by the screen. It’s actually not a Florida room. “Florida room” is a synonym for sun room, so they are supposed to be enclosed by glass, not screen. Still these screened-in porches are so synonymous with Florida to us out-of-towners, that we like to call it our Florida room. In any case, I see a lot more screened-in porches than real Florida rooms here. And it makes sense. I really don’t know why someone would want to attach a greenhouse to their home in a tropical climate. It’s hot enough on a breezy porch with its own ceiling fan.

The children also like to just sit out there in their little chairs, watching the birds. And yes, if I count their time on the porch as “outside time,” we’re getting Charlotte Mason’s 4-6 recommended hours. We even have lunch out there most days, which is just delightful. The porch is also right off of our homeschool room, so it’s perfect for a quick turn on a tricycle if people have too much energy to concentrate on math, for instance.

In fact, it’s fortunate that we like our porch so much, since it’s pretty much equivalent to our backyard. They don’t really do fences here, as you can see (we learned at the ecology center that fences disrupt the fragile Florida scrub habitat). So we have a strip of lawn, the obligatory small tree, and then the woods. I’ll tell you about the woods in a future post.

About a third of it the porch (the normal porch part) is under a roof, which is nice, since it rains here fairly regularly. I love sitting on the porch and watching the rain come down. The rest wraps around and projects out from the house like this:

I haven’t really considered how I might decorate the porch. I’m not very good with plants, and we have the woods right outside, so we don’t lack for green. But I think it might be nice to get some adult-sized lawn furniture, or even a table where we could eat dinner outside together.

During the day, the porch belongs to the children, and they ride bikes, trap centipedes (yes, we need to get a door sweeper. It’s amazing how many bugs get through that little crack), listen to woodpeckers, and play endless games about Narnia. But at night, I like to slip out through the other porch door, which goes straight into my bedroom. It’s just the right mix of indoors and outdoors, and a perfect place to watch the evening unfold.

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