For most of my life, I have lived in houses that have screened – in porches.
When I was growing up, the porch was where we hung out in the summer. Those were the pre-air conditioning days so we went on the porch and sat in front of fans that were plugged into extension cords that snaked through the living room to the electrical outlet. It was the only way to keep cool.
The beauty of a screened- in porch is that it is shaded, bugs can’t chew on you and you can remain dry during a fantastic summer thunder storm. You can still enjoy the outdoors but without some of the annoyances.
One of the stand-out memories of summers on the porch was reading. Every year before high school ended for summer vacation, we were given a reading list of about five books that were to be read over the next few months. On the first day back in school, we were tested on those books to make sure we had completed our assignment.
This was a delicate balancing act. You had to pace yourself. If you read them early in the summer, which my mother always advocated, you could find yourself at a loss for the correct answer during the test. The teachers seemed to think that the only way to find out if you had really read the book was to ask you something like “In what town did Janie Sue’s grandmother live?” The fact that the information was not important to the story and was only mentioned in the third chapter didn’t seem to bother them. So I learned the hard way not to do the readings too early in the summer.
But the flip side was that you didn’t want to wait too long or you were reading all day, every day for two weeks before school started. Learned that the hard way, too! By that time, your head was bursting with people, places, and things and you thought you’d explode if they didn’t give you the test as soon as you walked through the front door of the school.
Those days are long over and while I wouldn’t want to be back in school, what I wouldn’t give for hours on my screened – in porch to read, guilt-free. But you know what they say — you have to make time for what you want to do.
So maybe I should make my own reading list to be completed by the end of summer. Just no test in September!
What’s going to be on your reading list this summer?
©Lynn Wyvill 2012