[by Susan Ashline]
We walked door-to-door this week in what is known as a “bad part of town” in the city of Rochester. I’m familiar with the street name from my days as a news reporter. It was always on the scanner for shootings, stabbings, and miscellaneous crimes.
In spots, the patch of lawn separating each house could be measured in inches and not feet. We saw one garage that had a house number. We saw houses with broken steps and broken siding and peeling paint. There were broken windows, broken doors.
But there were fabulous porches; well-kept porches and elaborate porches. And there were amazing gardens in front of them that rivaled any you’d see at an admission-entry conservatory. There were porches adorned with flowering baskets more stunning than those displayed at landscaping businesses. One garden showcased a marvelous variety of colorful flowers, weed-free rows, and an immaculate brick walk-way lined by solar lights.
And one porch had a neighbor on it asking the other neighbor if she could borrow the key to another neighbor’s house to check on it while they away, because she didn’t have the neighbor’s key with her. “It’s that kind of neighborhood,” she told me cheerfully, and smiled as she said it.
Porches had like-new bench swings and patio furniture. One had a hand-designed piece of art stuck into the ground at the base of the front steps; nothing more than twisted metal with blue glass bottles hanging from it, but it was attractive and unique. Most of the porches had polished placards with painted flowers or sayings; or they simply announced “welcome.”
What does that say about a person?
Had I walked onto dirt-covered, unornamented porches with rotting, wooden furniture, it would’ve gone unregistered. But the porches . . . I noticed the porches.