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The Screened Porch
This is the time of year when I have to replace screens. Now this may seem to you like not much of a problem, but I have to do it every year and it is a job I dread. Also, it's my grandfather's fault.
You see, when my grandfather built on to the original homesteader's cabin in 1917, he wanted to entertain outdoors in the summer in some style. So, in the best tradition of Iowa, which is where he spent the winter, he built a huge screened porch, about 25 feet long and 7 or eight feet wide.
Through the twenties and thirties he and his wife and guests -- Edna Ferber, A.A. Hyde, William Allen White, Otis Skinner and his daughter Cornelia and many others, drank tea and talked away the summer afternoons in the shadow of Mt. Meeker.
So when the Reverend Mr. Warren in 1919 built the cabin which would eventually become my home, he must have figured he needed the same kind of porch, because it was a near duplicate. It's been shortened some over the years, to about a third the original size, but it still has eleven panels of screen, each about 6 feet by 3 feet.
Now, the real difference between the two home sites is wind, and those of you who have screened porches and live in windy places know exactly what I'm talking about. Grandfather's cabin was down beside the stream, and my place is considerably more exposed. Besides, they don't make screens like they used to. In fact, they make nylon screens, which, based on my experience, are best used in really calm places, like indoors.
The upshot of all this is that I buy screen by the roll, and every spring I look out at the porch and try to guess how many panels I'll have to replace this year. And every year the ladder seems shakier and it seems as though it's harder to hold the screen up while I use the staple gun (for years we had to use the little staples you hammered in, and you had sore fingers when you were done. The screens didn't last any longer, either).
Well, now we have big plans to glass in the porch with triple-glazed sliding windows, and we'll still have screens, but they'll be small and manufactured, and I may never have to replace them. This is called progress, and I'm in favor of progress, in small doses, like staple guns. But I am going to miss the fullness of sight and sound afforded by a big screened porch.
All that's in the distant future. At the moment there are three screens that blew out this spring, so, if you'll excuse me. . .
© 1985 – 2003, David E. Steiner
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