Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Sunday Memory Drawer - Spring Has Sprung

Now you don't really get spring here in California.   Oh, sure, you'll get some warmer days when the temperature actually varies by about ten degrees.   It will rain less than once in every ten days.   Of course, with all the rain this past winter, things are a little greener than they have been.  And that has resulted in these huge poppy fields like pictured above.   You know how the folks back East drive around looking for leaves in October and November?  This spring, people in the Golden State are motoring all around for the requisite poppy field photo op.

I grew up on the East Coast in Mount Vernon, New York.   Now there's a place where spring really sprung.  The winter coats got moved into the back of the closet.  The Mets had started their season at Shea Stadium so WOR Channel 9 would be tuned into my television now until October 1.   My grandmother would be tinkering in the yard with her plants.  Sure, her beloved rhubarb patch was perennial, but there would be other plantings.  Perhaps some cucumbers.   Almost always a few tomato plants, the fruits of which we would enjoy for about three days at the end of August.

But there were a couple of harbingers of the season that would scare the shit out of me.   One usually began with a request from my grandmother to my father.

"Harry, don't you think it's time to take down the storm windows and put up the screens?"


For those of you not from cold weather states, your houses frequently came with heavy duty windows that you put in place for the winter.   Then you removed them in the warm weather and replaced them with screens that allowed you a mosquito-free environment.  Whatever, the process of making this change in October and usually April or May always spooked me out.   My father naturally needed an extra set of hands to get this done.  Those would be mine.  And I always was convinced that this would result in the mangling of my dad.

Why?   Well, the first floor...which was my grandmother's part of the house...was a piece of cake.  Naturally, the storm windows were heavy and the screens were light.   But the trading out on the front porch was a snap.  Even I could do it without screwing it up and that's saying something.

It was the front windows of our second floor that were the horror show for me. Because it required my dad to get on the roof over the front porch.  First off, he would hand me the detached storm windows through the actual window.  To do so, my father would remove and then back up on the roof in order to hand it to me.  

This was my family's annual circus act.  Because I would watch my dad walk backwards on the roof towards the edge as I grappled to get hold of the storm window inside.   Indeed, there were five different windows we needed to do this for.   I held my breath on every one of them.   I was convinced that the slightest slip from me would have my father sailing off the roof into Grandma's prickly hedges below.

Once this daredevil stunt was complete, we were not done.  And my fears would be renewed.   Because there was an acrobatic part to get the screens up there.   

My job was to get the screens out of the basement.   First I would hose them down.  Then I would move them to whatever part of the outside house where they would live till the fall.   Again, the second floor was an issue but Dad had a foolproof method to getting this solved.   

I would stand on the steps to the front porch and raise the screens enough so my dad could reach them from the roof.  Okay, again, my heart was in my throat.   I was always convinced that my father would have to reach too far and then come tumbling off the roof into a mangled mess in front of me.

It never happened but the fear was there every single spring.  That's an awful lot for a ten-year-old to handle.

So what was my other springtime fear?  Well, come back next Sunday to find out.

Dinner last night:  Corned beef reuben panini at the Arclight.

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