The end of the school year is so close…less than a week away. By this time of the year, that idea excites me as much as it excites my children. But before we can close the door on the 2009-2010 academic calendar, we have to attend an endless array of concerts, ceremonies, picnics, and events. Don’t get me wrong…it’s great to see how the musical skills have developed throughout the year and it seems important for the members of the clubs and organizations to put a punctuation mark at the end of their meeting schedule; but do we have to squeeze everything into a two- to three-week timespan? Maybe it’s my own fault…I have, like, 100 kids (4 really, but it sometimes feels like 100), plus a husband that travels often for business and a part-time job with full-time hours…so I feel like I’m running backwards on the treadmill most of the time! Needless to say, I am counting the days until June 17th (although Grant has a dance recital tacked on later in the month), but for the most part, that is the end…the 8th grade “Moving Up Ceremony” will mark the true beginning of summer. No more fighting with them to get them out of bed in the morning or to finish their homework at night. The whole house breathes a collective sigh of relief as we settle into a favorite non-routine routine…the good ‘ole summertime!
As much as I love the Christmas season, I hate that it comes in the bleak mid-winter…I do not like the cold and I like it less and less every year. But the warm, long, lazy days of summer…bring it! Yes, I still work…but I do manage to rearrange my schedule so that I go earlier and leave earlier. Most late afternoons you will find us at the pool, followed by a late dinner on the deck, or drinks and music on the front porch…the glorious, all-American, iconic front porch. There was a time in America’s history when front porches were commonplace…a place where neighbor could wave to neighbor, families could congregate and share the events of the day, friends could meet for a tall glass of sweet tea and delightful conversation. I grew up in a neighborhood, actually in a town, where front porches were (and are still) popular, so my memory bank is full of front-porch moments.
I’m lucky enough to own a home now with a great front porch. It overlooks the beautifully manicured grounds of the Township Building and is along the well-travelled footpath of Maplewoodians on their way to the park, town, or the train. If it weren’t for one or two large trees, we could even watch the 4th of July fireworks from our rocking chairs (instead we have to walk about a dozen steps and view them from the lawn across the street). It is shady and comfortable…a favorite spot for morning coffee, afternoon books, or late night chats. It is breezy and feels 15 degrees cooler than the inside of the house on a hot summer night, and for that reason alone, we have yet to install central air in our 1920s Colonial. The purpose of the front porch has always been to provide a sheltered meeting place…a gathering spot…a place where time slows down and a cool, soft breeze can quietly blow away the concerns of the day. For me, it is a place where I have shared secrets with girlfriends, held hands with boyfriends, sat on a swing with my Mom and Dad, rocked my babies to sleep, and curled up with my husband. What a waste it would be to spend the summer inside, closed-up and closed-off from the rest of the world when we could move to the front porch, unwind, slow down, and in the words of my Grandmother…just sit a spell.