The Hello, Goodbye Porch

Norton Juster is probably best known for his iconic classic, The Phantom Toolbooth, but I delight in a lesser-known work of his called The Hello, Goodbye Window. Illustrated by Chris Raschka, this enchanting picture book captures the wonderment of a child visiting her grandparents’ home for a routine sleepover. For her, it never gets old. Everything about their ordinary house is magical in her eyes, most especially the window aside the front door, which is the Hello, Goodbye window. It is in just the right place for comings and goings, silly-faced reflections, and star gazing at night with Grandpa.

I often think about that story and that window, and though we don’t have a window like that of our own, I will venture to say that we have something even better. Ours is a hello, goodbye porch, right at the front of the house where you need it, just like in the book.

Our porch has two old round tables on it, bracketed by rickety chairs in which we sit for meals, games, and shared time around flickering candlelight on warm summer nights. The big, overstuffed armchair that we couldn’t bear to part with for its comfort sits to the left of the front door. Sure, it made it to the curb on junk day, but then somehow found its way back up to the porch in a moment of weakness. To fold into it, slinging your legs over one arm and setting your back against the other is to find a perfectly adequate clamshell to read in.

In my favorite season, the perimeter of the porch is dripping with hanging plants – a leafy screen for us and convenient, sprawling nesting pots for familiar house wrens. Weathered wind chimes accompany cricket symphonies over late night banter, and the yellow glow from living room windows tints the evenings with golden hue.

But truthfully, it matters not the season for what has become the truest purpose of the porch because it really is a hello, goodbye porch. You’ll find us out there each day, waving good-bye to tail lights drifting away, down the street – carrying one off to college, then another on a cross country adventure, and another for a weekend getaway, or maybe just to work for the day.

At coming home time, we’re mostly out there too, waiting on the front steps for someone whose arrival makes it feel like home again. With a porch like ours, you know you’ll be missed when you are gone, and welcomed home when you come back. It reminds us that you never really know when the last time may be, so you ought to make it count while you can. That’s when a misty eye or a wavering smile or a wordless wave come in handy and mean an awful lot.

It’s just a part of our house, but it lets us know that someone is already missing you and will be waiting there, when you cross the threshold to home.

6 thoughts on “The Hello, Goodbye Porch

  1. Phantom Tollbooth is my favorite book from my childhood. In connecting your front porch to the book The Hello, Goodbye Window, I have a new lens to view the transactions on my front porch. We have a new granddaughter, so I want to reread the Hello, Goodbye Window, and create a tradition for our hellos, and goodbyes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I just love this story and i am sure you will too. I am happy to know that somewhere out there will be another wonderful hello, goodbye window tradition beginning in your family. So important to know we are loved, right?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am ready to come visit and enjoy time on your porch! Your describe it so vividly. Favorite: a perfectly adequate clamshell to read in. I want to read in that chair, too! You also chose the perfect topic for this last day of the writing challenge. Goodbye for now. I hope to read your moments again on a Tuesday during the year and back here in March, 2023. Congrats on a great month of wriitng. Keep enjoying your lovely porch!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I save the photo for my last blog because my future daughter in law took it of my husband and the dog waiting for me to come home from school. Even though I had the photo, I wasn’t sure what would evolve from it. So. cool when that happens! Thank you for your affirmations. I look forward to connecting with you, too.


  3. Deb, you know I will be intruding on your porch one day soon. It is a lovely hello/goodbye spot. You are always so welcoming. I love this post because of your writing, but also because it reveals to me your keen ability to add significance and beauty to things I already know and admire.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s