Gusty autumn winds and a lot of rain keep washing away summer’s remnants. But warm front porch memories endure.
One is the new grass I can see growing from seed spread in the last weeks of summer. It has always seemed like a miracle of nature, and I needed one badly.
The dormant lawn never awakened from winter’s cold. Disease or lawn pests took out about a third of the grass, leaving a dead nasty turf behind.
In July I used an old pick, and with help from my partner, Bette, dug up some of the dead, heavy mats and put down two rolls of sod to see whether they’d take. But the summer heat proved too much for that investment.
Our next door Northeast area neighbor, Rick, said the previous owner had trouble keeping grass green and growing, too. He said that couple even hired a lawn service to finally get the grass to look healthy.
I had faithfully treated the lawn every fall and sprinkled out new seed. That wasn’t enough this year.
Experts at Soil Service Center told me to wait until September. That’s when I bought a blue grass-fescue blend of seed with fertilizer, and then used the pick with
Bette’s help to dig up all of the dead turf.
We put down peat moss first, and then the grass seed. Daily watering, and then heavy autumn rain awakened the new grass. It’s a joy to sit on the front porch reading the newspaper, drinking coffee with Bette and watch the new grass grow.
It was also on the porch this summer that neighborhood kids, Rebeca, 8, and Natalie, 7, often joined us. Bette had telecommuting work to do inside so I grabbed some boxes of Cracker Jacks she’d gotten for the girls. Grandmas like Bette do that for kids.
Neither girl had ever had Cracker Jacks. I sang the Cracker Jacks jingle that played on TV commercials when I was a kid. Rebeca and Natalie looked at me as if I had just landed from another planet. From inside the house, Bette yelled, “Yes, it’s where really old people are from.”
I opened each girl’s box of Cracker Jacks. They were still doubtful, each removing just one kernel of the candy-coated popcorn and slowly putting it in her mouth.
Both girls were surprised by how good the treat was. Natalie insisted that neither of her parents nor her grandfather had ever had Cracker Jacks before.
I told them that Cracker Jacks had been around so long that even my dad who’s 97 years old enjoyed Cracker Jacks when he was a boy. Neither girl believed that a treat so new and good to them could possibly have been around for kids predating me.
The Internet proved otherwise. Cracker Jacks got a trademark in 1896 and the little prize began showing up inside in 1912. The treasure in every box was a lot better than the baseball stickers the girls received.
Other lasting summer front porch memories included seeing squirrels build a nest in a knothole in the large tree at the curb. That has been an annual treat with new squirrel families moving in each year.
Birds also build nests atop the porch pillars. The birds lay eggs, which later hatch. The birds feed the babies until they are big enough to fly away. I clean away the nests in the fall, and the process starts over each spring with more bird families.
This year nature brought us new visitors. They were hummingbirds, which came to enjoy the nectar of the flowers in the front and back yards.
Before the autumn rains, we’d daily water the flowers we’d planted in the spring and Bette’s vegetables by the shed and garage. The house was built in 1926 so Bette’s raised garden was likely a victory garden during World War II. Previous owners not wanting to be bothered with vegetables had planted perennials and grass. Bette insisted on growing vegetables.
As long as the warm weather lasts, we’ll enjoy children’s laughter and front porch wonders of nature, and then eagerly await their spring return.