Back when I was growing up in Wolfeboro, NH, it seemed as if everyone had a front porch. In the summer time after supper, you’d see people out on their porches in their rockers, talking and drinking iced tea, or smoking cigars or cigarettes. The crickets would be singing as dusk fell softly on the day, and little brown bats flitted in the darkening sky.
It was a sweet and innocent time, and everyone knew everyone else. The good Reverand Cantwell lived in the next house up from ours, and he greeted each and every person who walked by his house. He and his wife would sit on their porch until dark, talking and laughing softly. As my bedroom window faced their porch, the murmur of their voices put me to sleep.
Back then, no one locked their doors or windows. It wasn’t unusual for a neighbor to bring home your cat or dog that had slipped out in the evening. We all knew our neighbors, their kids and their pets. All of us kids would play Red Rover, Statues or Tag until we all got called in for the night.
It was a privilege and a pleasure to be out on a summer night. Too soon we would have to go back to school and get all that summer laziness out of our systems. Back then no schools started until after Labor Day, and we kids dragged our feet walking to school. After weeks of sleeping late, playing all day, climbing trees, visiting relatives, and simply enjoying ourselves, it was a jolt to go back to our old routines.
But, like everything else, we got used to school all over again. Some of us stood in front of our classes and talked about what they did during the summer, and on the playground everyone boasted about how great their summer was. We all were tanned from playing out in the sun every day, and those of us who went to summer camp bragged about how much fun we had.
We adapted quickly to school and seeing old friends again. But in our heads we were still swimming, climbing trees, playing games, and running around in near dark, dreading to hear our parents call us in for the night. Now that I am sitting on my own porch, talking and laughing with the Crankee Yankee, I appreciate how those adults of long ago valued their porch time in the summer.
I know I do.