Monday, August 11, 2014

Ever since we started going to Bethany Beach (or, more accurately, Ocean View) for vacations, one of my favorite spots there -- or anywhere -- has been the screened-in porches that are a staple in the complex where we stay. I begin and end most days out there, usually with my laptop, but sometimes with my journal or a whatever I happen to be reading.

But this summer was different.This summer, the furniture on our rented patio was uncomfortable. It was fine for meals and board games, but it didn't lend itself to extended stays with a laptop or a good book. Despite the fact that the weather was cool and perfect for patio stays, I spent less time out there writing than usual, opting instead for a nook inside the condo.

We've had other years where the furniture on the patio was less than ideal, but that never kept me inside, and so it began to dawn on me that something else must be different this time around. And, when I got home, I realized what that something was.

Our patio at home.

We've been entertaining the idea of enclosing our back patio for several years now, but have come to the conclusion that unless we hit the lottery, it will be a PCT project (post-college tuition). In the meantime, over the past several summers, we've purchased structures with mesh screening that let the breeze in and keep the insects (mostly) out, enabling us to sit outside in most weather conditions.

Earlier this summer, we purchased the latest incarnation, which is a bit larger and more substantial than the others we've had. We also traded in our old round table for a smaller, rectangular model and replaced a bench that was worse for wear with a square ottoman that can be tucked under the table. As a result, the space feels bigger.

Little by little, we've added small touches. White lights. A fan. A throw pillow. A note pad and some writing utensils tucked into a basket and a cute handled tote (yes, Thirty-One) that sits on the table and holds tissues & hand sanitizer, or works as a way to transport a few things between the house and the patio.

Little by little, this space has become my outside office. My comfortable, homey outside office. The enclosure is a little more spacious than the ones we've had in summers past, and as we've added our touches, it looks more like a room in and of itself.

On our last day at the beach, I typically spend a few minutes alone on the screen porch, soaking up the ambience to take a little of it home with me. On this past trip, I didn't feel the need to do that, nor did I feel the same twinge of sadness when we left the condo. And that evening, once things were unpacked and the washer and dryer were churning away, I pulled up a chair to the table on the patio outside my own back door.

It felt good to be home. Sometimes, there's no place like it.

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