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Shannon Casas: Slowing down can be hard, but a front porch helps
Shannon Casas high res

A front porch is a must on any house I might own.

I’m not sure when it became a must for me — none of the houses I lived in growing up had front porches. When my husband and I bought our first home about 10 years ago, though, it had to have a front porch.

It doesn’t get much better than sitting in the sunshine, book in hand, maybe rocking or swinging and sipping a drink.

The house where my parents now live has a glorious front porch. The house dates to the 1870s, and the wide front porch is easily my favorite “room” in the house. There’s a swinging bench and space for plenty of other chairs. It’s the best place for conversation, at least until the train chugs loudly by and we watch quietly, noting the most elaborate of the graffiti on the containers and wondering what the cargo may be.

My mom likes to play her ukelele on that porch, and she’ll sometimes have others with their instruments come join her as well.

Other times it’s just the family gathered, talking about what’s going on in our lives as we watch

parents push strollers along the sidewalk below as they make their way to the nearby park.

The sights and sounds from my own front porch are quieter. Sometimes a cyclist whizzes by on the road. Bees buzz and birds work to build their nest in a painted birdhouse hanging from a hook; these flying creatures are likely annoyed by my presence in their space.

Time seems to move slower on a porch than in the rooms inside a house. That’s likely what draws me to the porch. I can shut the front door and leave the dirty dishes and laundry behind.

The grass doesn’t need cutting; thanks to allergies and the size of our lawn, we years ago decided to pay someone else to handle that chore.

So after weekdays spent rushing to get here and there and do this and that and then some more, I can stop for a bit.

On particularly busy weeks, sometimes it feels like stopping takes more effort than going. Life can feel like that train chugging along — stopping it takes force and time. I’ll leave that physics equation to someone else, but feels like more work to stop the pace inside my head as one workday rolls into another. In the frantic everyday routine, it’s hard to remember to breathe.

Sometimes the way to clear the mind is physical activity. For many, running is the answer. I did one season of track in high school, and I learned I do not like running. The rest of you can have at that particular activity; I’ll just watch as you jog by my front porch.

However, I do have a favorite exercise routine. I work out a lot of stress via banging drumsticks on a concrete floor to the rhythm of loud rock music. That release can give me the energy to hit the brakes and start slowing things down. And once I’ve been able to hit those brakes, I can enjoy a slower pace for a bit.

I can sit on my front porch watching a little one pedal his red tricycle along — without worrying about the problems I need to solve and tasks I need to complete.

I’m writing this on a Saturday after a long week. So, I think I’ll stop now and go sit on that front porch. You should do the same.

Shannon Casas is editor in chief of The Times and a foster parent. You can hear her most weeks on the Inside The Times podcast on iTunes or Google Play.

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