Back Porch Challenge—What I See from Mine

Hi everyone. It’s a sunny day (finally!) in Milan, Italy. And I have ample time today to stand on my balconies and see what’s going on out there. It’s life as usual, under a blue sky punctuated with clouds. Pollen is floating and flying everywhere. Most people are tucked into a plate of pasta, as it’s lunch hour, and I’m answering the Back Porch Challenge issued by Celi at thekitchensgarden.


Celi lives on a farm. Her life is as different as mine as a life can get. Or maybe it’s not. In the blogosphere it’s hard to tell what’s different, and what’s just a different way of seeing the very same thing. Celi is from New Zealand, but she lives in the American Midwest, fighting the good fight to run a sustainable farm. I am an American living in Italy, fighting the good fight (I hope) to raise my children with the best values both cultures have to offer.

Perhaps we both look off our porches and think about the places we’ve left. About all that distance. About all that love. About all that amazing, mysterious connective tissue that holds people together against impossible odds and miles.


Perhaps we both look at flowers and growing things and feel good because they are beautiful, no matter where they are. Perhaps we both think of all that needs doing that day. Perhaps we put it off for another five minutes or more, just to sit and look, taking the pulse of the hours that pass.

Celi has readers from all over the world — if you read her blog, you’ll understand why. And she’s asked us to share our views from our Back Porches with her. The places where we go to sit and ponder the world “out there.”


I don’t really have a real back porch. I just have two balconies sticking off the front. Often when I’m standing there looking out, over, up and down, I see other people doing exactly the same. Sometimes they hide behind curtains. Sometimes they stand, peeled down to their underwear, feeling invisible. Sometimes they call loudly to people across the street or enter into arguments that are taking place curbside. Sometimes, often, my most meaningful exchanges are with the sky and the clouds and passing airplanes. “Where have you been today?” I ask. “And where are you going?” And the answer is always accompanied by a mischievous shrug of the shoulders: “Wouldn’t you like to know.” Yes, I would. I really would.


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19 Responses to Back Porch Challenge—What I See from Mine

  1. cecilia says:

    Charlotte what a beautiful piece of writing and it is exactly that way for us isn’t it. I do understand the watching of planes, I do that all the time, and I look at the direction the plane is taking and think.. will you take me home? Home is a very popular destination for people in planes. Now I need to choose my favourite image to show the fellowship. I think the first one. Would that be your choice?.. c

    • I trust your instincts entirely! You choose. It’s your blog. They all represent me and my view from my adopted home equally well. Thanks so much, Celi. This has been strangely meaningful for me.

  2. colonialist says:

    Certainly different. And amazing how much plant life, even in the city like that.

    • Yes, there is a lot of green, surprisingly. A bit scrubby here and there. The Milanese aren’t big on manicuring their green…and today it’s all totally wind-whipped. Seems winter has come back to deal all that plant life an unexpected blow.

  3. dayphoto says:

    I love this post! And the flowers on the balcony — so romantic. What those of us who live ‘not there’ think living in Italy must be!!!


    • Well, I am laughing over here…because the flowers are what I see FROM my balcony, they’re not on mine. Who was it that said “It’s more important that you see a house with a pretty facade than that your house has a pretty facade”? Or something like that. Milan is a total hodgepodge. Of old and new. What we think of as “Italian” and buildings that sprang up in the 60s and 70s. My house is more modern. But I get to look at this lovely sort of decrepit, ochre, wisteria draped thing every day.

  4. pattisj says:

    What a unique view you have, and I loved the description of life nearby.

    • It is unique…a bit of a mess too. I suppose we can’t all have beauty 24/7…Milan is a total mix. There’s a lot of not-nice mixed in with the beautiful. I guess you have to choose your view as you go.

  5. EllaDee says:

    Celi is wonderful to give us all this opportunity to get to know each other better. As well as admiring your surroundings, I’ve been browsing through the rest of your blog – it’s gorgeous 🙂

    • Thank you so much! I just read your Ginger cat post…I love the connection between your move and your dream. I too have a dream-story connected to a house…maybe some day I’ll pull it out for the blog…yes, isn’t Celi amazing? She’s a force of nature as far as I can tell. I am addicted to her blog. Our life is so predominantly urban. Her stories and images heal me in some way. Nice to meet you!

  6. Lovely wistaria. We have been to Italy 3 times – it has a personality all its own. Thank you. I got quite excited when I read Celi’s challenge. One tries to imagine where other people in the Comments Lounge live, especially those without a blog. Joy

    • Yes, Celi’s idea was a good one. She’s such a maternal person…amazing how she has drawn so many people together. And, yes, the curiosity builds! Your dogs are beautiful by the way. Our fifteen year old lab died in December. I miss her so much.

  7. Pingback: Even more stunning views from The Fellowship of The Farmy | thekitchensgarden

  8. Marmepurl says:

    I always fall for a well written piece. Hard. Thanks for a lovely start to my day. You are doing a fine job of ‘spreading the feeling’.

    • Thank you so much. I always struggle to get the right words down, and then after I hit publish, discover loads of typos and things. My mother was an English professor, so writing is important in our family. The feeling is the main thing, I guess…so if you got some of that, I am so so happy. Thanks again.

  9. ron says:

    we love our little patio. we look up a lot, too. mostly at the clouds, the bright green trees against the blue blue sky….yeah…..

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