Saturday, June 25, 2011

Hanging Out

I've been hanging out in front these days.  No, it doesn't have anything to do with eating too many chocolate chip cookies.  I'm already a "muffin top", though that is simply because they don't make pants that fit real people....but I digress.

The hanging out I've been doing is on our front porch.  I didn't think anything of this until our neighbors mentioned it.  They had wondered why we were always sitting around in the front yard when most normal people hang out in their backyards behind perfectly good privacy fences.  When they remembered how many animals we have in our backyard, they assumed that was the reason for this unconventional habit of ours.  Though that is not the reason, it was good guess.  It's not quite as easy to relax when you're watching out for our foot-attacking Napoleon or having to watch where you step.  

We reclaimed some of our backyard today, by enlarging the pen for the birds so they have their own space fenced off from the rest of the yard. There's plenty of room for them.  It's almost as big as the entire yard at our first house.  Someday our space back there will be a very nice place with brick walkways, a patio, and our very large garden.  It's nice now; however, I wouldn't entertain guests back there.  

The main reason we hang out on the front porch is because we want to.  I love front porches.  My grandmother had a large porch where she kept two rocking chairs.  When family was visiting, we all gathered on the front porch.  Only the very cold weather kept us indoors.  Because the porch was covered, we sat out during rainstorms.  That was my favorite time.  All my aunts and uncles would sit around, telling stories about the old farm and all the different ways they got into mischief.  All of us kids sat around, listening intently, making mental notes.  An education of this sort is priceless.

Front porches are where all the fun conversations happen.  Serious conversations happen in the kitchen.  In some European countries, babies take naps on the front porch, even in the winter.  They are bundled in their snowsuits and tucked into their crib or pram; outside.  They consider this to be far healthier than having their babies take naps indoors.  I remember hearing Helle Heckman describe the little ones in her Waldorf Kindergarten in Denmark (N√łkken ) as having "such adorable red cheeks" when they woke up from their naps in the winter.

Sitting on the front porch, you can visit with neighbors who walk by, read the paper, and make sure that would be thieves know that there is someone in the neighborhood who is home.   Maybe someday we will have such a nice backyard that we will entertain guests out there, but I'm hoping that the backyard farming takes on so well that more people start sitting on their front porches.  Maybe then, more people in the neighborhood will start getting to know each other, trade recipes and garden produce, and share tips on handling our urban livestock.

That would be nice.  It's a part of our living space, after all.