Saturday, January 22, 2011

Front porch living in a backyard world....

A couple of summers ago we were able to complete the fence around our backyard. Since both of our neighbors had fences already, this wasn't really that hard. We used fencing to close up the yard on either side of the house, and used a chicken-wire fence to close off the back. (The chicken wire becomes almost invisible in the lilac hedge and allows us to keep the "view" of open prairie land behind our house!)

Voila. It is perfect for kids. You can send them out to play and not be worried about them heading to the road or onto neighboring properties.

However, it also acts like a fortress. Keeps us seperated from the rest of the world.

Some days I think I could easily become a hermit. With so much activity indoors, and an introvert by nature, it takes a lot of effort to get out, mingle with the neighbors and connect with my community.

Last summer, I intentionally played in the front yard with the kids. Consequently we had a lot of impromptu play times with our neighbors, cultivating relationships with dear friends and making some new ones too. My kids are already begging for warm enough weather to play outdoors with their friends again. Oh, and freezies. Can't forget the freezies!!!

Before Christmas, I was able to host a Cookie Party. I invited gals of all ages from up and down the street, and their kids too, and we gathered for a morning of getting-to-know-you visists, chuckles and catch-up conversations. Some women I knew before this, others I had only briefly met. Kids were given an opportunity to decorate cookies at the table, and it was a way for me to share all the white-chocolate covered pretzels I'd made (and didn't want to eat all myself!!).

I cannot begin to say how much this was a blessing to me. It was a full morning (even busier getting ready for it) but the time was a gift and a highlight of my advent season. Little M was asking me when we could do it again - I was asking the same thing! SUMMER!! When we can set up the sprinkler ;).

These are little attempts to become a part of, and even contribute to, the community around me. It is so easy to drift along, focused on my own life and wants and needs. In a day and age when much emphasis is placed on individualism, this is very refreshing indeed.

So, I'm also on the look-out for new ideas :).
How do you cultivate community in your world?


Chantelle - ThousandSquareFeet said...

Oh, oh, I know! Have a potluck BBQ or weiner roast with your neighbours! We are fortunate (and I do think it is really quite lovely) to have next to no fences for many backyards in either direction. We are constantly moving from one yard to the other to gather the children! But then we get to know the parents, too! So, yes, a BBQ is a great thing!

a very sweet life! said...

That's a great idea :). Several years ago (I was pregnant with M, so 6 years by now!!) our neighbor across the street did exactly that. He hosted a block BBQ. It was great! Everyone brought their own food (meat) and either a salad or dessert to share. I've often thought about your "no fence" arrangement. A great way for kids to play together WITHOUT having to go to the street (especially since neither of us have sidewalks!!).
Great idea :).

Roo said...

i loved that leah...when they had a big street party!!! that was such a blast. .....

a very sweet life! said...

Ruth, I should mention to Marge that their BBQ inspired me to host people in my own home. I've thought of them often, especially since Jake's death. Somehow the neighboorhood feels different...


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