It is the slap and sproing of the screen door, more than anything, that heralds the arrival of summer for me.
The slapping, gunshot-like bang that is achieved only with the abrupt closing of a good, old-fashioned, wooden screen door. Preferably the kind with the screen bowing out, stretched thin by tiny hands and dog noses.
I am convinced that summer appears later, somehow, for folks afflicted with one of those shiny, vinyl, overly insulated, pneumatic closure storm doors.
Those doors are just sneaky somehow, with their stealthy little hiss and click upon closing.
A screen door is just naturally friendlier. Ushering in cross breezes and neighborhood kids (has there ever been a wooden screen door with a lock?) in equal measure.
Porch talk. In a similar vein I do not believe for a moment that lemonade tastes the same outside of a real porch.
By this I mean the deep, cool, well-sheltered sitting, eating, sleeping, gossiping, and neighbor watching, all-around living areas most often found on old farmhouses and classic bungalows.
Creaking porch steps and one loose board recommended, if not outright required.
A porch like that, with – dare we hope – a porch swing, was tailor made for lemonade. Decks, stoops, and overly shallow porch pretenders need not apply.
They can, perhaps mimic the ambiance of having a porch, but the proof is in the sitting.
Anyone who has tried to swing while bumping back to knee against the railing of a pretend porch too shallow to enjoy, or who been broiled alive upon an unshaded deck will know of what I speak.
Porch pretense. Viewing the “farmhouse style porch” of a newly built home, I was astonished to find it barely deep enough to accommodate one half-hearted rock of a rocking chair.
It had all the proper accouterments, from the lovely doric columns to the neat and even railings.
It was, this porch, a thing of beauty, and like beauty, just as shallow.
What it lacked was the depth required to make it a bona fide porch. It was clearly designed more for show than shade.
Despite the builder’s obvious intent, this skinny little porch was, at best, an overhang with aspirations.
It would appear that I am a rural-phile. Beholden to farmhouse porches and antique doors. Convinced that there is no life worth living beyond the wide open spaces and heady scent of cows in the distance.
That is untrue.
I find villages and the occasional small town make the grade as well.
Main Street memories. In fact, small towns of a century ago virtually cornered the market on perfect porches and banging screen doors.
Breathes there a man or woman of a certain age who doesn’t recall watching dusk descend from their own front porch and calling to neighbors out for a stroll?
Who doesn’t still hear the slam of their own screen door serving as their own personal applause welcoming them home?
Or better yet, does not still hear, if only in memory, their own mother’s voice coming back through the ages: “DON’T slam the DOOR!”
Mothers suffering an affliction that generally renders them unable to understand, until much later in life, that screen doors are made to be slammed.
Ur-banality. I’m certain that the denizens of some urban center, with the cultural events, municipal parks, and a duck pond or two will call me provincial and short-sighted.
Unable to imagine that summer comes to the city as well. Not true!
I believe summer comes to the city. I also believe that it is hot, sticky, and smells distinctly of asphalt (not unpleasant in and of itself).
Actually, I’m sure summer comes to all areas. Sticky pavement, chlorinated air, and the scent of sunscreen wafting throughout. But when it comes to the sheer enjoyment of your standard summer, I demand the full regalia that only rurality and old homes seem able to provide.
Ice cold creeks, sun warmed toads, shady wood lots, bakingly hot barn lofts, long dusty driveways, fresh mown grass, and lemonade glasses sweating in the porch shade.
And, above all else, the slap of a good old fashioned screen door to let me know that summer has, after another long winter, finally arrived with a bang.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt has an old-fashioned wooden screen door that she is blessed to have slammed regularly. She welcomes comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 38, Salem, Ohio 44460.)