Lunch on the porch includes more than just good food

Porch view by Bruce Stambaugh

By Bruce Stambaugh

Everyone needs a sanctuary. For my wife and me, our back porch is our quick retreat from life’s demands. A few short steps and we are in a special place. Over the years our back porch has given us many marvelous memories.

We recognize that we are fortunate to live where we do. Our home, built three decades ago off an Amish farm, is situated between Benton, Berlin and Mt. Hope, all in Holmes County, Ohio. Our back porch provides panoramic, inspiring scenes.
Girls in buggy by Bruce Stambaugh
The open-air porch was added to our modest home several years ago. We wanted a quiet place to relax during Ohio’s warmer climes. When the weather does cooperate, we especially enjoy lunches together there. It helps to have a wife who is a great cook. I’m no chauvinist, but I’m no chef either. Neva rules the kitchen and I reap the rewards and help clean up.

Lunch by Bruce Stambaugh
A recent lunch that we enjoyed on the porch.
Somehow the food tastes even better on the porch. One recent lunch featured her homemade butternut squash soup, sprinkled lightly with toasted bread crumbs. A fresh spinach salad with crasins and vinaigrette nicely complemented the soup.

A simple dessert of sweet cherries was washed down with fresh sweet peppermint tea, spiked with basil, giving the tea a sweet-tart taste. The mint was picked just minutes before being doused in boiling water. Other than the tea, no seconds were needed. A single course of each was plenty.
Mowing hay by Bruce Stambaugh
The house serves as a buffer between our busy highway and the backyard, minimizing the traffic noise. We love the quiet.

Well, perhaps quiet isn’t the proper word. Abundant backyard activity breaks any hint of silence. While we dined, we heard the undulating hum of a mower and the rattle of horse harnesses as our Amish neighbor completed his second cutting of hay before taking his own lunch break.

Downy by Bruce StambaughIn the meantime, the birds and wildlife kept us entertained as they also dined. With the porch open on the sides, it’s not unusual for birds to zip over our heads to the feeders. That is especially true for the acrobatic hummingbirds. Their feeder hangs from the edge of the porch near the kitchen window. It is fun to watch the territorial hummers chatter and chase each other away from their own version of lunch. They wouldn’t have to do that. There are several places to perch.

If we stay immobile, even the woodpeckers light upon the peanut butter suet feeder that dangles next to a hanging basket of flowers. The little downys, however, are the only ones that aren’t spooked off by our presence. Still, they nervously but needlessly chip and jerk their heads warily as they jab at the rich mixture, making sure we keep our distance.

Wildflowers by Bruce StambaughA green frog, one of six that inhabit our little garden pond, waits patiently for lunch to fly by. The green frogs that patrol our little garden pond adjacent to the porch patiently wait in the sun for their own lunch to fly by. When I hear a plop, I know they are as satisfied as we are.

Beyond the pond, monarch, swallowtail and red admiral butterflies partake in their own flowery buffet on the patch of ever-changing wildflowers. Along with volunteer sunflowers, the coneflowers, Black-eyed Susan’s, daisies, gaillardia and bachelor buttons paint a colorful palette in the shade of the canopy of pines and giant sugar maple.

When human guests arrive, their smiles reveal their appreciation for our sanctuary. Added together these pure and pleasurable ingredients always make for enjoyable and hardy gatherings. I’m more than happy to share the recipe.

Guests by Bruce Stambaugh

© Bruce Stambaugh 2012

Lakeside, Ohio: A relaxing place to be

Cottages at Lakeside, Ohio by Bruce Stambaugh
Cottages at Lakeside, Ohio.

By Bruce Stambaugh

Erik Beun of Berlin was typical of the many people from the Holmes County area who vacation at Lakeside, Ohio.

“It’s a relaxing place,” Beun said. Beun and his family were enjoying their sixth year at Lakeside. Beun also brought along his parents, Henry and Julie, for their first Lakeside experience.

Their family was emulating a scene seen thousands of times a year at Lakeside. They were tooling around the quaint village on bicycles. And why not? It’s an easy way to see Lakeside’s immaculate gardens, quaint old cottages, shady lakeside parks and amazing views of Lake Erie and its islands.

The Beun family by Bruce Stambaugh
Allison, Laura, Erik, Andrew, Henry and Julie Beun all enjoyed a bike ride around Lakeside.

Because Lakeside is a gated community during the summer months, it is a non-motorized vehicle friendly place. In fact, bicycles often go faster than cars. In part, that’s because once at Lakeside, the need for a car drops dramatically.

The place is so pretty, so quaint, so relaxing and the people so friendly there is no hurry to go anyplace. You are on vacation. Sit back, relax and enjoy. Many from the Holmes County area have done just that over the years.

Kent Miller of Millersburg started going to Lakeside with his parents when he was 10-years old. That was 1982. Now his son, Kyle, is 10, and has the same sort of fun that his father did.

Miller said the family likes Lakeside because it is “a safe haven for young families to go and relax for a week.” He said they particularly enjoy the amenities of doughnuts from The Patio Restaurant, and letting the kids shop at Marilyn’s, a store with an eclectic mix of clothing, candy and Lakeside souvenirs.

Shasta Mast, executive director of the Holmes County Chamber of Commerce, and her family have retreated to Lakeside for 15 years. She said the most difficult decisions she has to make while at Lakeside are what book to read and when to get ice cream.

Beach and dock at Lakeside, Ohio by Bruce Stambaugh
The small beach and Lakeside's extended dock entice swimmers and sun worshippers of all ages.

Like many other Lakesiders, Mast likes to read her book while sunning on Lakeside’s popular dock that juts out into Lake Erie. Others swim, with lifeguards provided during certain hours. Still others fish from the dock, while some simply choose to sit and watch the variety of boats sail or speed by. In the evening, the dock is crowded with sunset watchers with cameras at the ready.

Of course, the front porch is just as good for reading as the dock. It could be the house rented for the week, a bed and breakfast or the sweeping, screened porch of the historic Hotel Lakeside. They all provide peace, shade and plenty of congenial company.

fountain by Bruce Stambaugh
The fountain in front of Hotel Lakeside.

After all, Lakeside is the Chautauqua on Lake Erie, nurturing the body, mind and soul. That is what the Lakeside Association both promotes and provides for its visitors. Educational workshops, seminars, evening entertainment and worship can all be part of the Lakeside experience for children to adults.

Tennis, shuffleboard, miniature golf, running, walking and Frisbee are also available if exercise and competition are your game. There are businesses to spend your money if you want, and by the lines, a lot do. Specialty drinks, ice cream, homemade doughnuts, and Lakeside-specific clothing are all available.

Then, again, you can just adopt Erik Beun’s attitude and simply relax. That’s the Lakeside way.

Maxwell Hospitality House by Bruce Stambaugh
Maxwell Hospitality House, Lakeside, Ohio.

This article initially appeared in The Holmes County Journal, July 29, 2010.