Spring is truly a big deal in Minnesota. You can feel the tundra beneath you take a deep breath. As the people re-discover that the permafrost isn’t really perma, they rush outdoors half naked (hoodies, shorts and flip-flops) to once again give thanks.
The rituals vary. On our block, it is the raising of our prefabricated screened porch that is the most tangible testimony that Spring is truly, finally, here. Neighbors say they rejoice as the gossamer ramparts go up in early May. And they mourn when the porch is boxed up in October. During the ‘tween time, we enjoy the shade, the breeze and the protection from Big Damned Mosquitoes.
This season, the make-ready included putting a new stain on the deck and spray painting the wicker furniture. Last season, she made new cushions.
For most of the last decade, the Mystery Woman has single-handedly wrestled the porch into submission. No small undertaking (not one of my favorite words). There are eight screened panels, each six feett tall, which fold like an accordion for winter storage. Handy, too, for lugging from the garage around to the front deck.
Then the Mystery Woman and I struggled with wrapping straps around the contraption, Lisa, our neighbor to the north took pity and helped us carry the components around the house. She stayed for another two hours to help us fit the pieces of the puzzle together. It did not bode well that the first attempt to fit Part A into Slot B resulted in the entire screened porch being erected upside down and backward. But we fixed it in fairly good humor. Considering we were each sober. And two of us had heart-related surgery this year.
Then the Mystery Woman and I struggled with fitting the soft roof to fit in the slot that holds it dear to the side of the house. It didn’t work. We tried repeatedly but our aging stamina drained and we could not coax the canvas the last two feet necessary to close the deal. Frustrated, we called it quits for the evening, opened some Three Buck Chuck, and rested. Even casual passers-by could see we still had our work cut out for the next day.
As we fretted the job ahead, Laura, our neighbor to the south, sent an email volunteering herself and her husband, Bruno, What a gift. We eagerly await the new day. And young muscle.
--caring neighbors are great, and
--we must be as old as we look.