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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: In praise of screen doors

© Another Day in the Country

Is the proper term screen doors or screened doors? Whatever their name, I’ve always loved them — both for their ability to keep out flying insects and their sound.

One of my earliest Ramona memories is the sound of screen doors slamming. It took me a while to figure out why they slammed. They were controlled by a spring attached to the door jam and not one of those air-compression door closers that brings a door closed gradually with a very small hisssss.

Saturday morning, everything quiet in a mostly quiet little town on the prairie, birds singing, an occasional (please, let it be occasional) dog barking, and “whap” you’d hear a screen door close — at the other end of the house, across the street and maybe even across town. Aunt Naomi would raise her head and look out the window toward the sound, “So, what’s Jakie doing now?” The screen door announced that something was happening. Someone was going somewhere. People were up and about.

Since most of the rest of the world had long ago given up on spring loaded screen doors, the very sound of a lightweight door closing became synonymous with Ramona. When we had to get a new screen door for Cousin’s Corner, we faced a moral dilemma. Do we get a regular slam-bam screen door or do we get one of the new softly closing models?

“We have city guests,” my sister remonstrated. She knew I loved banging doors. “I’m envisioning a nice big all-glass, clear door so that people can have the door open in the summer and look out and see the view.”

She wanted a door like Kink and Darlene have. They live just down the block. Their little half-block kingdom on the corner is always lovely to behold whether it’s the flowers blooming or the wash on the line. Kink’s lived his whole life in Ramona and even before him, his family held up a standard of excellence in town. Their lovely little pristine bungalow is graced with a clear, always sparkling, full-length glass storm door (I don’t think they are even called screen doors). Jess wanted one just like theirs.

We got that big, clear glass door with two whooshy closers (top and bottom) and sat back after TTT had completed the installation, to enjoy this new luxury. Jess took on the mission (impossible) of keeping it free of smudges. One of the first things that happened was family reunion, and Uncle Hank, busy talking to someone, tried to walk through that closed clear glass screen door and whopped his head. “Hmmm,” we said to each other, “maybe we should have settled for one of those regular spring-loaded, banging screen doors?”

When we built Mom’s house, we found the prettiest cottage-style screen doors with curved openings and little spindles. So pretty, in fact, that I still love just looking in (our out) through those doors, enjoying the view. They look so welcoming, so country-sweet with their delicate curves. While old fashioned screen doors would last for decades, this new variety, made mostly with plastic, didn’t survive one.

First of all, our cat, Marshmallow, started on the back door screen and made his own cat door through one set of spindles one day after he’d been attacked once too often by a rogue male. My 4-year-old grandson, who like his grandmother loves the sound of a banging screen door, took care of the front door screen, running in and out with such abandon that something had to give and the door started sagging before I called a halt to all the fun.

Needless to say, it was time to replace those doors.

“Should I get a clear glass door?” I asked myself and anyone else who would listen. “I’m always wanting light in the house,” I added, just to muddy the waters.

It was a big discussion. I finally settled on the same old, same old, partly plastic, curvy, spindled, delightfully old fashioned looking, but slightly fragile, affordable, banging, screen doors. And, I added a third, matching screen on the door to my bedroom.

Especially this spring, I’ve been enjoying having the doors open, seeing the view through those curlicue screen doors. Every morning, I open the door, pause and look out through that lovely screen door to the day ahead. I go get my cup of tea and head for the front porch swing to sit a spell and enjoy the quiet morning in Ramona and contemplate another day in the country. How sweet it is!

Last modified June 13, 2012

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