Merri and I stepped off of our front porch and walked with sad hearts across the street to the old South Hamilton Elementary School auditorium to attend the funeral services being held there for Mr. Kenny Hutcherson. That sadness began to lift as we were greeted by Kenny’s friends and family, and soon the music and testimonials did away with the sharpness of the sorrow. Instead we were reminded of what a joy it was to have known Kenny. It was a beautiful, sad, yet joyful celebration and remembrance of Kenny, and it caused me to reflect back to the appreciation program that was held in Kenny’s presence last year at the community center. So to remember Kenny, I’ll just repeat what I wrote about him then, when he was still with us. “The Appreciation Program in honor of Mr. Kenny Hutcherson last Saturday was amazing! I knew that Kenny was appreciated, and foolishly thought that I was typical of someone who appreciated him, but I had no real idea! The community center was packed, standing room only, and the stories that people told of Kenny’s service and devotion to the Town of White Springs and, more importantly, to the people and families of White Springs, were sometimes tearful but always joyful testaments to what a great man Kenny Hutcherson is. It was a privilege just to be there! Thank you Kenny Hutcherson for all you do and for reminding us by your living example that earning the love of family and the admiration of friends is much more fulfilling than wealth or privilege ever could be.” Kenny has now passed over, but he will not be forgotten for his service to the community of White Springs. Condolences to his family and may they be comforted by the community that loved him.

That journey to say farewell was but one of many a journey for us that began from our front porch, and that same front porch has welcomed us home from our travels with its warm embrace, inviting us to make that transition back into the welcoming environs of our home. Over the years, one hundred and fourteen of them, our porch braved the elements, blazing sun, driving rain, and even a few hurricanes. Many coats of paint, hundreds of repairs, and 41,610 sunsets later, it was in need of some major repairs. With those repairs now completed, our front porch is now ready to host us and our friends for another hundred years. I can’t imagine our house without its porches, and the front porch remains supreme! How could this architectural aspect of a home be improved upon? It can’t! It’s already perfect, and it was the equivalent of Facebook before Facebook ever existed!

Perhaps for some of my younger readers I should explain. In days gone by, before air conditioning and television relegated most of us to the indoor portion of our houses, people kept contact with the outside world by the simple act of sitting on their front porch or taking a stroll past other folks sitting on their front porches. If someone was our “friend,” depending on how good a friend they were, we might stop and sit for a spell, or just talk over the fence for a few minutes, or just wave and say hello as we strolled on by. Sometimes we might even cross the street to avoid close contact with an undesirable porch sitter and sometimes folks on the porch would go inside when they saw an unwanted contact coming down the street. All in all, the porch/evening stroll system was a great social network and it worked well for a long, long time, before Facebook was even a figment of Mark Zuckerberg’s imagination.

Times have changed and people spend more time indoors now than they do on porches, but our front porch still has value and we use it often. We welcome children on it every Halloween and it’s the best place in town to watch the annual Christmas parade! So many of our family pictures include our front porch that we have come to regard the porch as part of the family. Beverages, whether they be coffee or ice tea, or beer or wine, or that most Southern of all concoctions, a Mint Julep, taste so much better when partaken of on our front porch! And where is the best place to greet the morning, glory in the sunset or watch the majesty of a Florida summer’s late afternoon rainstorm? The Front Porch of course!

I believe that we spend too much time trying to separate ourselves from others socially, economically and physically; it’s time and effort that we could better spend staying in contact with each other. That’s why I’m so glad that I live in White Springs with its delightful mix of homes and people. When I sit on my front porch, there is nothing artificial or contrived about the scenery I see or the people who pass by. I am seeing the real world — the world as it truly is — and I feel connected to it. I like to think that the hours we spend on our front porch are so special that they will not be subtracted from our allotted span of life on earth. Come sit for a spell!

Have you ever wondered if all the fuss about our fresh water springs and our water supply is something to worry about? Over at the Suwannee Regional Library in Live Oak on Aug. 8 at 6 p.m. there will be an informative presentation by John Dunn, the author of the book “Drying Up: The Fresh Water Crisis in Florida.” Dunn will discuss Florida’s fresh water crisis and you will have the opportunity to learn the cause of the recent algae blooms and red tides, how sea levels affect fresh water sources, about Florida’s fresh water pollution, who controls water supplies, and what you can do to protect life’s most precious natural resource. Books will be available for purchase and signing.

Exciting news for music lovers! The Folk Festival favorites, The Currys, are coming to White Springs to perform a benefit concert to “Save Our Bells!” All proceeds will go toward the Stephen Foster Carillon bell restoration project. The concert will take place Sunday, Aug. 11, 4 p.m. at the Heritage Tourism Center, corner of SR 136 and US 41 (Bridge St. and Spring St). For ticket information call 386-397-2733. This will be a great concert for a very worthy cause!

Well, once again I’ve said enough but, as always, I do want to remind you that if you have news you want to share, you should let “Life in White Springs” help. We’re always glad to hear about goings on in the community and will be glad to share anything that is appropriate for this column. I am thankful that we can depend on each other, and I hope that we can continue to feel proud of who we are and where we’re headed, and that we all appreciate how White Springs and its surrounding region is a very special place, to be honored and protected. As always, I look forward to seeing you out and about, enjoying your community and your life in White Springs.

Walter McKenzie

386-303-1394

lifeinwhitesprings@gmail.com

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