Grateful for Friendly People on Their Porches — Watercolor, Florida

The friendly, open, welcoming beaches at Watercolor, Florida, were a balm for our family.

The friendly, open, welcoming beaches at Watercolor, Florida, were a balm for our family.

Ah the ocean! It is balm to the soul and was a much needed tonic after what felt like an unwelcoming attitude of Seaside. As we left, I was determined to end our day trip on a positive note, and the children were eager for some time in the sand.

Fortunately for us, the neighboring township of Watercolor offered both public parking and access to the seashore, complete with a well-kept restroom and outdoor shower. (The beach at Watercolor is rated by Travel & Leisure as one of the best in the country, but we didn’t know that at the time.)

We quickly made our way down the boardwalk and onto the sand. A red flag cracked sharply in the wind on a pole near the footpath: no water play today! It was late afternoon and in the lovely light of the fading sun over the water, we ran and skipped and enjoyed the breeze and surf. After about half an hour we headed back to our car and decided to take a peek in Watercolor and see what their front porches were like and if they had any porch folks enjoying the their front porches.

A sweet porch in Watercolor, Florida. Notice the special drop box for flip flops!

A sweet porch in Watercolor, Florida. Notice the special drop box for flip flops!

In many ways, it was similar to Seaside. The streets were just slightly wider, and were standard pavement vs brick. There was also a more traditional layout to the neighborhoods, the paths, not perfectly straight, but mostly following a grid pattern. There were no tidy signs with rules or warnings. Interesting street lamps, like oversized pierced lanterns in a “ranger green” stood at regular intervals to provide soft light, when needed. We waved and exchanged pleasantries with the few folks we passed.

We admired front porches and took a few pictures, but at this point in the day, it was not a porch that I was looking for, but rather a person, and eventually we found her. There seated on her front porch, with it’s soft turquoise “tulip” railing, looking out and admiring the view and the passersby sat Dawn, with her casual elegance and generous nature. Sugar spotted her first and I pulled over and hopped out to introduce myself as I walked up, my biggest smile in place. “I have been looking for you all day!” I exclaimed cheerily, “What a beautiful front porch you have.”

Lorraine, left, and her daughter-in-law Dawn, welcoming us onto their front porch. This is what we came for!

Lorraine, left, and her daughter-in-law Dawn, welcoming us onto their front porch. This is what we came for!

She smiled and softly laughed at the thought of being sought after. I handed her my card and told her our little Front Porch Nation story and asked if could possibly take a picture of her and her sweet porch.

We chatted back and forth and she mentioned how they had vacationed for many years in Seaside, but when it came time to buy a home, they chose Watercolor.

“Why?” I asked.

She replied simply, “Well, we loved how all the cottages at Seaside were named and you knew residences by their cottage names, but it’s friendly here. So, we bought here and named our cottage, ‘No Hurry’.”

I said that I agreed that Watercolor did seem to be a friendlier place and that her home reflected her friendliness and ease. She offered me a seat and a glass of something refreshing to drink. Smiling my thanks, I told her that it was so very kind of her to offer, but that my children were in the car, and it was time for us to be heading back to our home base for the evening. She offered to introduce me to her mother-in-law and went to bring her out on the front porch to sit with her for the picture.

Lorraine was a doll and spoke of how important the front porch was to everyone back when she was younger. A squirrel came by, hanging onto the holly branches that grew next to the porch and seemed to want to join in the fun.

I took their pictures and thanked them again and headed back to my car and we drove on. Another family was out on their porch, school-aged children giggling among themselves as they waxed a surfboard. Was it a decoration? Were they going surfing?

Another street, more porches, but no more photos. We had what we had come for… the porch incarnate: the welcoming soul of a community…found sitting on a front porch.

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