Skimming through a North Carolina blog today, I caught a glimpse of something I haven’t seen in a long time. A burrito? you ask. A really, honking big, unnecessary SUV? The sun?
A window screen.
For me, window screens evoke the feeling of summer. Lying next to the screen window, falling asleep to the sound of peepers (small frogs) with the sun not quite gone from a yellow sky. That’s an old, old memory. Making sure the screens were tacked down at summer camp so the mosquitos wouldn’t get in. Not more than six or seven dozen, anyway. And then finally, when the days had been chilly long enough to convince us that summer really wasn’t coming back, as the leaves turned on the trees and the pine needles carpeted the ground soft orange, taking out the screens and replacing them with storm windows for the winter ahead. And then that happy day in spring, when the snow has retreated to diminshing bunkers on the north sides of hills and the greenhouse effect in the house makes you stretch like a happy cat, putting the screens back in their rightful place for the lengthening days ahead.
They don’t seem to have window screens in Europe.
They don’t. Not in Germany, anyway, or in southern Scotland. The general attitude seems to be that there’s nothing to keep out. There are no mosquitos. I wonder if the legendary, bloodthirsty midgies that plague the Highlands and Islands of Scotland in the twilight stray into the houses in search of sustenance? There are times I wouldn’t have minded a screen to keep out a large fly, or the bee that got into my kitchen unnoticed, but for the most part I much noticed the lack, in Scotland. In Germany, my windows would open onto the lawn, so at night I had a choice to make. Leave the light on to read, or leave the window open. Moths in Germany don’t seem fussy about their source of light.
In a way I didn’t mind the choice so much, though. It felt real, like the inside and the outside weren’t so far apart and sealed off.
So that’s my odd bit of nostalgia for the day: screens. Screens, and living in the woods where they really mattered.