In the spring, I see people cleaning, raking, frantically shifting possessions from one place to another. People work like crazy to create the perfect relaxation environment...only to run out of sunshine by the time they finally sit down.
I can't count how many empty hammocks, deserted gardens and lonely deck chairs I walk by, spring to autumn. Front porches are set with lovely arrangements of adirondacks, potted plants, and bubbling fountains but no one really gathers there.
I have heard front porches were abandoned with the invention of air conditioning. People used to be driven to the breezy front porch to escape the sweltering interiors. Neighbors sat facing each other, chatting, drinking cool drinks and waited for the heat to pass. Now they seal up the house from May to October to keep the cool in. And then comes winter. People might as well live in underground burrows.
I would also argue the invention of the aluminum screen was a major player in driving folks inside. People screened up those porches and built little screen structures out back. Now they huddle inside their screen hideouts, smiling smugly at the bugs bouncing off the screens.
Windows soon followed to extend the porch to three seasons. The new windows were framed too high to even see the sidewalks much less say howdy to folks passing by. Heck, I have to stand on my back legs to see out of our front porch. Hardly relaxing!
Converted front porches are, for the most part, completely unsuited to communal sitting. What were once a breezy extensions reaching towards community became long, awkwardly cramped rooms. They became mud rooms and storage areas to pass through on the way to the air conditioning. Ours is full of bins of toys, ice skates in June and scooters in January, and piles for Goodwill.
Once in awhile, my Susan busies herself creating a pleasing sitting space, if only for one or two people. But one ever sits on the porch. They head for the deck in the back which is open to the world and pleasant for basking.
My people have the fine art of relaxing down pretty well -- especially Dave. Susan has trouble sitting still. She says she feels like she is wasting time. She feels guilty. And it takes about five minutes for her to see something that needs doing. But compared to the neighbors, my people are sloths.
I have heard the phrase "working like a dog" used to describe this type of running around. What dog are they talking about? Most dogs are up for a good long walk or jaunt at the park but then they power down.
I know there is an entire group of dogs described as "working dogs." This group includes those crazy herding dogs. And sled dogs. Think about it; an entire group bred to work neurotically. While we could use more working dogs in government, mostly, it is just sort of sad.
See below photo for a better demonstration of "working like a dog."
I highly recommend "working like a dog." It is free and requires no special decorating or relaxation accoutrements - just a patch of sunshine and the proper mindset.