Not every woman has been blessed with the home-making instincts, but here is one who has. Listen to the explanation of her ingeniously planned furnishings.
“Anyone who has tasted the mutual joys of a porch breakfast on a hot morning will go far to try it again,” says the Woman Practical, with a laugh, when asked to explain her porch furniture. “I have taxed Jack’s pocketbook and my own ingenuity on the question of our dining room, but after I had labored six days even Jack ‘pronounced it good.’ I have a table which is fastened to the wall and closes against it when not in use. This is for side dishes when the dining table is crowded.
“I have a tall rubber plant to screen the entrance from the front porch, and I mortgaged everything I possessed to obtain one of those stamped leather screens which can be placed at any angle and which will serve to hide Jack when he falls asleep.
“I have any number of bamboo and porcelain wall vases and I propose to fill them with every changing season with the flower that Natures proclaims queen of the woods. Of course, I have some ferns and the dearest teakwood tray, on which I shall serve tea to the chance visitor within our gates.
“It is my dining room table, though,” she continued, with a sparkle in her eye, as she remembers how she searched for it, “that fills me with unholy pride. If there is anything more unique I should like to see it. I found an old-fashioned settle, whose back when turned down makes the tabletop at meal time. The under part conceals a box large enough to hold all the table napery, and when the meal is done the bench, with its high back, protects the sitter from a draft. When I give parties I have a large round top which fits over the small one, and I manage to get two tables out of one.
“Don’t you think me ingenious?” enthusiastically inquires the Woman Practical, warming to her subject. “I am a believer that in congenial surroundings sympathy awakens, wit scintillates, and if conversation lags it is only that the speaker may fall into a state of placid content.”
And we who listen believe her. There is a subtle something in her home that makes remote the striving every-day life. This summer her porch is part of the surrounding shrubbery. The foliage will cover walls and roof, through clustering roses one will catch glimpses of an expanse of blue sky, clumps of syringa will blossom in their time and little flowering plants will spring up along the pathway to this home.
Even the shadows, varying from hour to hour, will have their decorative effect by lending tones of color, and the Woman Practical’s garden will bloom with a spontaneity of thankfulness.
Photo: The Weir Family on the porch of their house, Branchville, Connecticut (pre-1900), by NPS