Winter has us in its grips now, and we do everything we can to heat our home efficiently. This past autumn, we installed a new door and storm door, although a porch keeps in the heat as well.
The porches of homes in our birthplace of Newfoundland are important. The prominence of porches there is connected to the elements which can be harsh. Porches separate the main living area of the house from the outdoors, like a weather or wind break. Years ago they also served as storage areas for wood or supplies.
Weather is an important part of the culture and lifestyle of Newfoundland because so much of what people did, the fishery, hunting, or harvesting wood, depended on weather conditions. Even today, you consider the weather as you plan your day or look ahead at the week. However, the best laid plans can be foiled because like most of eastern Canada, the weather can change in a few minutes. "If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes," is a common saying in Newfoundland and other parts of Atlantic Canada.
As a result of the often harsh conditions, homes in Newfoundland are designed for the elements. Whether it is a room attached to the outside of the house or the entry part of the interior of the home, a porch is almost essential to any Newfoundland dwelling.
However, it is common to hear the word 'nar' with reference to porches. Nar means no, and is used to qualify items such as, "We caught nar fish today," or, "I got nar cigarette." But it is the use of nar with the word porch, a room which provides an entry to the house, which is most curious.
The importance of the porch to the Newfoundland home is understood by the saying,
"The worst thing you can have on your house is nar porch."