We sit in the front yard. Now I know that may not be the oddest statement to make, but from what I’ve seen in my short time on earth, most people who have backyards sit in the backyard and use the front yard merely as a walkway to get into and out of their domains. Backyards tend to be for playing, visiting, barbecuing, and what ever else you may want to be doing socially with friends. Front yards are generally window dressing.
Years ago, when I lived in a house I rented that really didn’t have a back yard (or much of a front yard for that matter), I took to hanging on the front stoop when it was too hot to hang inside. I noticed that as people walked by, time and again, I would begin to interact with them and slowly, over time, I began to get to know my neighborhood. Before long, others were starting to stop by and sit on the stoop with me as well. It was pretty cool and what began as a choice of necessity, soon became a choice.
As the years moved on, and I was blessed to live in a place that has a front and back yard, I decided to stick with the tradition, and hang out in front. So out came the lawn chairs, and there they sit, ready for us or anyone else who happens to wander by to sit upon for a bit. Ironically, while the neighbors don’t do the same in their houses, our front lawn has become the place to hang on our block, as the kids seem to congregate there knowing that they can usually find someone hanging out.
It occurs to me that what we as a society need is for more people to hang out in their front yards. People tend to shut themselves in, stand behind their fences, and lose contact with the outside world. Taken to the extreme, this only creates an atmosphere of disconnection, bringing with it the fear of the unknown, and pretty soon, entire areas where no community exists. On the flip side, if everyone were sitting out front near the sidewalk, or in their common areas, or in the park, we would all be interacting more, meeting more, learning more, and generally improving our lives immensely.
So this July 4th, drag that barbecue out to the front, invite some friends in the neighborhood over, throw up some chairs and down some blankets, and hang in the front yard. Pretty soon, you’ll wonder why it took so long in the first place.
P.S. Oh, and while you’re at it, plow under that lawn and plant some corn. The grass takes too much water, and you can turn the corn into a maze for the kids come harvest time.