On Saturday morning our chore list included putting up the screens on our upstairs windows. In our old house, it’s a way to mark the seasons: taking down the screens in the late fall, on the cusp of winter, and putting them back up again when the weather gets warm enough that opening the windows for a fresh breeze is a plausible option.
Taking down the screens is a lot easier than putting them back up, because our screens use an archaic two-part system to remain in place. The top of the screen is supposed to be slid into metal slots on each side of the window, and the bottom of the screen uses a kind of knob and fastener system to be locked into place. To remove the screens, you lift the fastener over the knob, the screens pop out, and you slide them out of the slots. But because the knobs and fasteners were added individually, to put the screens up you need to find the right screen for the right window, where the knob on the window frame and the fastener on the screen line up. And if you are putting the screens on the windows upstairs, you need to hold the screen in place, try to find the slots without being able to see them, hope that you matched the right screen with the right window, then line up the knobs and fasteners without dropping the screen. It’s the kind of trial-and-error project that requires multiple attempts and seems consciously designed to provoke some mild cursing.
But whatever the hassle, putting up the screens is worth it. Because when the screens are up, and the weather cooperates with overnight temperatures in the 50s — as happened last night — you can open the bedroom windows and sleep while the neighborhood quiets down, the cool night air fills the bedroom, and you hear the sound of a distant train whistle. For me, it’s a reminder of childhood, because I grew up in a house without air conditioning that was dependent on the night air to cool things down.
I like the brief periods of spring and fall open-window weather, which last only until it becomes too hot or too cold at night and the windows must be closed up again. A night or two of open-window weather makes the screen project well worth it.