by Pam Tinsley
Our seven-month remodeling project was finished just before our statewide stay-at-home order went into effect. The project was driven in part by safety concerns – the removal of our earthquake-vulnerable chimney – and in part by environmental concerns – the replacement of a wood-burning fireplace with a propane fireplace. To provide more light in our living room, we enlarged two windows. And for a personal touch, we added a front porch. We envisioned peacefully relaxing on our porch as we took in the fresh air during warmer – and even damp – weather with a cup of tea, a good book, and our basset hound lounging at our feet.
However, we’ve discovered an unexpected “front-porch blessing” during this time of stay-at-home orders. The parking strip and parts of our front yard have become a gathering point for neighborhood children and their appropriately-social-distancing parents! We hear squeals of joy as children ride their bikes or scooters in the closed-off street, blow gigantic bubbles, jump rope, or make chalk drawings up and down the sidewalk. They entertain our puppy, just as she entertains them! Parents who’ve lost their jobs and older siblings keep an eye on the younger kids. And in the late afternoon – especially when the sun is out – the parents who have been working from home meet on our front lawn to socialize.
A loss of personal connection has been one of the deep sorrows of this tragic pandemic, because – as human beings – we’re wired for relationship. It’s such a joy to hear the children play and to see our neighbors gather and forge stronger bonds with one another – while maintaining a safe distance. Thanks to our new front porch addition, the front yard now teems with life in the midst of this pandemic and offers an unexpected blessing to our lives and to those of our neighbors!