It all started when our small private school added a temporary building to house the library and an additional classroom. The mobile home I purchased happened to have an attached porch which was rather large and raised several feet off the ground, with sturdy benches going all around it.
Hmm, I noticed it would seat about a dozen kids or so. When I took my students to the library I used the porch as a gathering place, stopping for a minute to focus before starting their library experience. We even shared our book choices there afterward. The kids learned much about the give and take of friendship from PJ The Spoiled Bunny.
Before long I couldn’t resist adding some hanging plants to go with our springtime study of plants. Some students had read a story about the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, so it reflected a bit of history to them. Then kids and their families started bringing more plants, wind chimes, and other items befitting this outdoors haven.
One weekend at a school workday, painting the porch was high on the list. My friend, Mr. Henry, showed me the paint he had gotten. As I watched him stir it I remarked, “Looks like chocolate! Mmmm.”
By Monday it was dubbed The Chocolate Porch by everyone. Tree frogs found their way to make a home in the bromeliads, hummingbirds frequented the blossoms, and chameleon lizards provided a moving panorama of excitement any time of day.
Eventually we had it moved to the sideyard area where students could eat lunch on the porch. Some even took turns going there to read. It made a great place for a chat as well as an area where we could play counting games and be boisterous and loud while learning the multiplication tables.
The day of the move was quite a day: In the middle of a freezing ice storm, the heavy equipment showed up and I skated (another word for continually falling) around the yard to show them exactly where I wanted it put.
Lunch was glorious on the Chocolate Porch. Cody loved the “medicine plant” so I showed how aloe vera made a good lotion. At a school party Cameron even taught parents all about basil, giving each a sprig to take home.
Miss Popcorn Goat, our school mascot, could be seen from this vantage point. She lived in a large shady area with a sign “Goatrun, Texas – Population One”. Students loved to watch her antics while having lunch on the porch or the picnic tables below it. The big sweet gum tree provided plenty of shade and squirrels for the whole area.
The Chocolate Porch taught science, love of nature, calmness, concentration, and amusement for all. This porch reminded us that learning can be fun. Sometimes it even rated its own song–which was sung along with other exciting songs during Miss Judy’s music class or sometimes at odd moments just for fun.
The Chocolate Porch
(to the tune of one of my favorite old gospel hymns Peace Be Still by H. R. Palmer and Mary A. Baker. Words by Hildra Tague)
The Chocolate Porch has hummingbirds. Hush, no words. Watch the birds.
The wonders of nature are everywhere. Just look outside in the open air.
The rabbits and squirrels and mockingbirds. They all come by so don’t say a word.
The world is out there. Look if you will. Peace be still! Peace be still.
Just being outside can be a thrill. Peace, peace, be still.
The Chocolate Porch framed lots of fun, quiet moments for reflection, and tons of great memories for students, teachers, and even their families. What a porch!
Copyright by Hildra Tague. Obtain author’s permission for use online or in print.