Monday, June 29, 2015

The Sleeping Porch

We have been experiencing the most unusually extreme temperatures!  Typically we get a few days of extreme heat (over 100 degrees) every August, however June and July are warm but manageable.  This year is something else entirely.  We have already strayed into the triple digits and it's not even July!

Because we live in a metal box in the middle of a prairie, we have to get creative to keep our family from succumbing to the heat.  One of the drastic steps we have taken to beat the heat this year is to turn our "sunroom" into a sleeping porch.

When I was a little girl, my Great Grandparents had a large house in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle.  To my child's eye, their home was a mansion, filled with precious treasures and wonders.  For hours I would sit in their telephone room, situated directly between the foyer and the kitchen, and write letters and draw pictures on the pads of paper used for taking phone messages.  I would make my way through closets that connected one room to another, pretending they were secret passageways and explore the contents of long-forgotten trunks.  I would play the miniature peddle organ on the stairway landing and sneak into the breakfast nook for a solitary moment in the warm, cheery kitchen.  But, on the hot summer nights, my very favorite place in the world, was the huge, old-fashioned sleeping porch.

The porch occupied one entire end of the second story.  It was about 40 feet long by 15 feet wide with wood floors that creaked with each footfall.  The room was wall-to-wall windows, which were covered by storm windows during the winter, but come summer, the windows were stored in the basement and the room became a screened in wonderland.  The sleeping porch was nothing fancy, merely 8 metal chaise lounge chairs arranged in a line.  They had thick, heavy, old-fashioned mattresses that smelled of age and dust and a few pillows and blankets spread here and there.

My family always visited during the warmest summer months.  My mother, grandmother, brother and I would walk to Volunteer Park and meander through the conservatory.  My brother and I would perch atop the lions that guarded the entrance to the Seattle Art Museum (located, at that time, in the park), pick water cress in the creek (for sandwiches with our tea) and trot after mom and grandma as they visited, filling each other in on their dramatically different lives. 

At the end of the long summer days, sleep would beckon.  My parents would retire to a well-appointed guest room with a tall 4 poster bed, linen sheets, and rose scented pillow cases, but my brother and I, we were the lucky ones.  We got to slip into crisp sheets on freshly made chaise lounge beds, to be lulled to sleep by crickets, cool breezes and the scents of summer.

With the extreme heat this summer has brought us, I decided that my children needed to experience the sweet sleep of a sleeping porch.  Normally, our sunroom is set up with chairs and a table and a single bed, where we often have tea in the evenings, enjoying the cool breeze and lovely views.  The sunroom affords us extra living space during the late spring, summer and early fall.  But this year, we removed the chairs and tables from the sunroom and added a cot and a "nest", along with the single bed that already occupied one corner, to create a sleeping porch for the children. 

The children love their new sleeping quarters!  They awake refreshed and rejuvenated, even from the warmest nights.  Each night, the kids can't wait to crawl into their beds, made with crisp sheets, and fall asleep, cooled by night breezes and lulled by the sweet music of crickets.

And so, my children get a tiny glimpse into the lives of their Great-Great Grandparents, through our own, little, make-shift sleeping porch.


  1. Memories like those can last a lifetime. Hope your cooler weather returns soon.

  2. Here in Texas the older homes had a second floor sleeping porch. I always wondered why the second floor until one of the locals told me that mosquitoes do not fly higher than about 10 ft so there were minimal attacks when you were over that height.

  3. My kids slept on a sleeping porch on vacation one year, they LOVED IT~

  4. Thanks so much for the walk down memory lane. When I was a child and visited my aunt and uncle, I got to sleep on their sleeping porch. Six bunk beds - enough for the whole family to sleep in year round in Los Angeles. My cousins would say that if they were 'bad' they had to sleep in their rooms and not the sleeping porch. We, too, are experiencing record breaking heat. My garden loves it but it is tough to sleep in the warm house. All the best to you and yours. SJ in Vancouver BC Canada

  5. We've been sleeping on our porch here and it isn't enclosed with anything! I too have memories of sleeping outdoors or on the porch when it was hot! We are in southern Idaho and it is unseasonably hot here too, Thanks for the trip down memory lane! Try to stay comfortable!

  6. It's like camping out in comfort!!
    It's been hot here (Colorado Springs) after a cool and rainy spring, but the nights never fail to cool off nicely. :)

  7. Enola, what a wonderful idea! Sleeping in the 'semi-outdoors' would be a restful respite from the summer heat. The 1860s Indiana farmhouse that I grew up in was well appointed with windows, but not as open by far as your sleeping porch.

    The closest I've come to a sleeping arrangement like that is when a bunch of us took to sleeping outside on a third story walkway around a barracks where I was stationed for training for a few months in the late 70s when I was in the Corps. In the end someone got careless with a pop bottle during the night and down it went. No one was hurt, but we were all back inside the big brick oven for the rest of the summer.

  8. As Steve said, some older houses had a second-story sleeping porch. In old movies where you see huge doors leading out to the second floor porch..that was so you could roll the bed outside, and some beds had what amounted to mosquito netting around them.. There must not be much in the way of mosquitos in Idaho..leaving a window open here, even with tight screens is inviting a full out mosquito air assault.

  9. Thanks for thepost andmy walk down memory lane to my childhood(Many, many yrs ago, lol!)
    My parents lived in a house that had a screened in rear porch off the kitchen. I slept there sometimes in the summer in central Wis. Oh to have a screened in porch now.
    Again thanks for the memory.
    Love from NC

  10. Lovely Post! We go to the shore in the summer and my husbands family house has lots of sleeping porches, some of which have been closed in. I echo an earlier comment here - while mosquitoes are a huge issue in the yard, not at all on the second or third story of this house. Love that you (Enola) recreated this memory for your own. Your blog is wonderful and we all admire your eternal resourcefullness

  11. My Grandfather had a porch that was screened in running the width (40') of the house and perhaps 10 feet deep. When I was little all of us grandkids/cousins would either sleep in one room together on 5 full size mattresses covering the whole room floor (11 kids) or we would pile out on the back porch to sleep! Absolutely no better sleeping.