“Heat quivered up from the asphalt, giving to the familiar buildings about the square a nimbus quality of living and palpitant chiaroscuro.”
— William Faulkner
So much of the world’s news was shared, problems were solved, stories were told, and visits were enjoyed on the porches of Southern homes. I think of the “side porch” at my Grandma Bullard’s home in White Springs. It was screened and also served as a “sleeping porch.” Cots and day beds were pulled there during the hottest months of summer to the sleeping porches. There were two at my paternal grandmother’s home; one on the south side of the house and one on the north. Cool, relaxing places to sleep or nap, and napping in the middle of the day was more “common” than “uncommon” during the summer months.
How many hours of dream-filled and dreamless slumber did we spend on those screened sleeping porches? How many hours did we wile away with books dreaming dreams and drowsing? It was a world that was unhurried and pleasant; not perfect, but filled with politeness and genuine welcomes to those who came to sit and rock and share a visit. “Won’t you have a glass of iced tea or some lemonade?” “I made a pound cake this morning, would you care for a slice?” “Warren and Wade brought these tomatoes yesterday from the farm, take some home with you?” I can still hear those voices and remember that world of many decades ago.
How many gallons of field peas were shelled on those porches? Ladies sitting, enamel dish pans in laps, shelling summer peas. It is a memory that is with me, and I can picture it in my mind’s eye. The huge hydrangea bush that bloomed in profusion during the late spring and early summer; the screened porch, laughter, stories, conversations.
In thinking about those days, I thought about summer as expressed in writing by some of the world’s famous writers, past and present...I hope you appreciate them. They evoke for me the feeling of sitting and drowsing on that screened porch in White Springs, Florida, many years ago. They bring to mind ladies in cotton print shirt-waisted dresses, aprons tied around their waists, either shelling peas or languidly moving fans with a slow, steady motion; fans advertising local area funeral homes with a picture of “Jesus Feeding the Lambs” on one side, and the contact information for the funeral home on the other.” Many of you remember those fans, and they are becoming rarer.
Make yourself some iced tea, think cool thoughts, don’t close your eyes, and read the following or close your eyes and have someone read them to you:
"And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer."
—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
"It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside."
―Maud Hart Lovelace, Betsy-Tacy and Tib
"Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August."
—Jenny Han, The Summer I Turned Pretty
"Green was the silence, wet was the light,
the month of June trembled like a butterfly."
— Pablo Neruda, Sonnet XL
"Summer was on the way; Jem and I awaited it with impatience. Summer was our best season: it was sleeping on the back screened porch in cots, or trying to sleep in the tree house; summer was everything good to eat; it was a thousand colors in a parched landscape; but most of all, summer was Dill."
―Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
"The castle grounds were gleaming in the sunlight as though freshly painted; the cloudless sky smiled at itself in the smoothly sparkling lake, the satin-green lawns rippled occasionally in a gentle breeze: June had arrived."
―J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
"I have only to break into the tightness of a strawberry, and I see summer — its dust and lowering skies."
―Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye
“It’s a sure sign of summer if the chair gets up when you do.” — Walter Winchell
“The air was oppressive even in the early morning hour, hot with the scorching promise of a noon of glaring blue sky and pitiless bronze sun.” — Margaret Mitchell, “Gone with the Wind”
“Summer in the Deep South is not only a season or climate, it’s a dimension. Floating in it, one must either be proud or submerged.” — Eugene F. Walker, “The Untidy Pilgrim”
Finally, and I have to add this one from a popular country and western recording artist, Kenny Chesney, “It’s a smile, it’s a kiss, it’s a sip of wine... its summertime.”
And one from someone a lot of readers won’t know, but there are many who will. Remember Nancy Sinatra who made famous “These Boots are Made for Walking”? Nancy had a hit entitled “Summer Wine” she sang with Lee Hazelwood: Here are part of the lyrics.
“Strawberries cherries and an angel's kiss in spring My summer wine is really made from all these things Take off your silver spurs and help me pass the time And I will give to you summer wine Ohhh-oh summer wine.”
Well, this may be one of the best articles I didn’t entirely write. It was so much fun making decisions as to what I would share with you. I love where I live, heat, humidity, poisonous snakes, stinging insects, cool water, warm hearts, and the finest people in the entire world. Thank you for your continued encouragement and support. Thank you to the wonderful staff at the Suwannee Democrat, Jasper News and The Mayo Free Press.
From the Eight Mile Still on the Woodpecker Route north of White Springs, wishing you a day filled with joy, peace, and, above all, lots of love and laughter.