I wrote this essay several summers back. The year after my father died. I am not sure why I thought of it now. I just did.
Maybe it was the sounds and scents of harvest that remind me that we have lost yet another summer or maybe it was having the grand kids over this weekend – and the hard slap they gave the porch door every time they rushed in or out.
“Hi Dudders! Hi Mattie!”
“Can we use your computer?”
“No, I’m writing.”
“Dudders, stay away from the table saw.”
“It’s not plugged in.”
“Uh-huh, stay away from it.”
“Because it has a sharp blade and because I told you to stay away from it.”
“She went back to the house.”
“Look guy, either in or out, okay?”
(five minutes later)
rattle, rattle, rattle.
“The door’s locked.”
“No, the door is latched.”
rattle, rattle, rattle. “Lemme in!”
You may have guessed. I installed a screen door on the cabin I built in the woods. It is a very basic door, just a wooden frame of unfinished pine but it has everything I need.
- Two screen panels to let the air in but not the mosquitoes.
- A spring to draw the door shut after the kids fling it open.
- A hook and an eye to latch the door when mosquitoes are not the only annoyances I want to keep out.
But most important of all, the door came with a special sound – creeeak… Bang!
I grew up with that sound.
It played percussion in the symphonies that were summers on Laurel Ave in Saint Paul in the 1950’s. Laurel Ave was a place of large families and no air conditioning.
The slap of a screen door carried for blocks.
Imagine the racket a couple hundreds kids can make blasting through those screen doors on their way to and from play.
But our screen door was unique, it came with another feature, a voice we will never hear again….
“DAMNIT!! EITHER STAY IN OR STAY OUT!!”
Followed by the inevitable rattle, rattle, rattle, DAA-AA-AAD! I’m locked out!!”
“No, you are not locked out, you are latched out. Now, go play and quit rattling the door. It won’t do you any good.”