The following is a guest post from Dr. Brian Wright, a local psychologist– EDIT: psychiatrist at Coliseum. Thank you, Brian!
A defining feature of old southern houses are front porches. Family would often gather on the front porch in the evening for a cool drink, good conversation and a peaceful end to the day. You waved to your neighbors as they walked by and caught up with them if they stopped to chat. As society changed and more people got air conditioning and cable TV, front porches disappeared from newer homes after WWII. As our lives got more and more busy, architecture reflected our need for space and solitude and rest and more and more houses opted for back porches surrounded by privacy fences rather than front porches. Society replaced community front porch time in the evening with private time inside or on the back porch.
During the last few weeks while people have answered society’s call to social distance in an effort to keep ourselves and others safe and stay home as much as possible, we have found a new need in our life, that of connecting again. This need is not something that is new, but is easily satisfied when restaurants, bars, schools and social events fill our days. We needed back porches then to rest and restore ourselves. Now we live in a new day. School, restaurants, faith communities, even jobs have temporarily closed and many of us are feeling the effects of this social distancing. This might be a good time for us to sweep the pollen from the front porch and rediscover and reconnect with our community.
Sitting on the front porch makes you feel less isolated. You can see your neighbors walking their pets and wave from a safe distance. You can watch as they work in their yards, go back and forth to the mailbox and see people that you may not have connected with in a long time. You get to feel connected even while staying safely at a distance.
You can be reminded of the beauty of spring flowers and the sunset. You can have a cool drink and enjoy the perfect spring weather. Last week while I was walking around the neighborhood, I saw people doing yoga on their porch.
Maybe your porch time could include a nap in the swing, or working a puzzle with your kids, or calling your neighbors to check on them. It’s a perfect place to write notes to your friends and let them know you were thinking about them.
Mr Rogers once said that “The connections we make in the course of a life – maybe that is what heaven is.” In the south, we are fortunate to have so many front porches, each of which offer us a space and opportunity to enjoy the wonderful community that we live in and the wonderful people that live around us. I hope that we can all rediscover our front porches and maybe in the process, the connections that remind us why life is worth more in community.
Are you spending more time on your porches? Post pictures in our comment thread!!
Love to all y’all,