No house construction in Jamaica is complete without a front porch, better known as a veranda. My earliest recollection of homes was of spacious buildings with wood or concrete floors and a front porch that overlooked the garden. Today those houses seem a lot smaller, but like then verandas remain a key feature of home construction. Verandas are designed to channel breeze into houses, as well as provide an orientation to the external landscape and views from the building. Previously verandas were open, allowing easy access to the main house. However, with growing concerns for security today, many families choose to install ornate metal grills that allow the breeze and views but deter unwanted intruders.
As a child the veranda was my favourite part of the house. It was a spacious place to play when it rained or take a nap on the cool floor on a hot day. It was a safe place to watch the world go by beyond the front garden fence, as well as the place to be in anticipation of friends and family visiting. It was the venue for children and dolls tea parties. At night the veranda became an observatory to watch and hear nature, with star lit skies, singing toads and fire flies. It was there one’s imagination wander while listening to music from the adjacent living room, assembling puzzles or participating in hotly contested board games with my brother. Yes, the veranda was the best place to be for a little girl living in town.