Monday, June 29, 2015
The Sleeping Porch
We have been experiencing the most unusually extreme temperatures! Typically we get a few days of extreme heat (over 100 degrees) every August, however June and July are warm but manageable. This year is something else entirely. We have already strayed into the triple digits and it's not even July!
Because we live in a metal box in the middle of a prairie, we have to get creative to keep our family from succumbing to the heat. One of the drastic steps we have taken to beat the heat this year is to turn our "sunroom" into a sleeping porch.
When I was a little girl, my Great Grandparents had a large house in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle. To my child's eye, their home was a mansion, filled with precious treasures and wonders. For hours I would sit in their telephone room, situated directly between the foyer and the kitchen, and write letters and draw pictures on the pads of paper used for taking phone messages. I would make my way through closets that connected one room to another, pretending they were secret passageways and explore the contents of long-forgotten trunks. I would play the miniature peddle organ on the stairway landing and sneak into the breakfast nook for a solitary moment in the warm, cheery kitchen. But, on the hot summer nights, my very favorite place in the world, was the huge, old-fashioned sleeping porch.
The porch occupied one entire end of the second story. It was about 40 feet long by 15 feet wide with wood floors that creaked with each footfall. The room was wall-to-wall windows, which were covered by storm windows during the winter, but come summer, the windows were stored in the basement and the room became a screened in wonderland. The sleeping porch was nothing fancy, merely 8 metal chaise lounge chairs arranged in a line. They had thick, heavy, old-fashioned mattresses that smelled of age and dust and a few pillows and blankets spread here and there.
My family always visited during the warmest summer months. My mother, grandmother, brother and I would walk to Volunteer Park and meander through the conservatory. My brother and I would perch atop the lions that guarded the entrance to the Seattle Art Museum (located, at that time, in the park), pick water cress in the creek (for sandwiches with our tea) and trot after mom and grandma as they visited, filling each other in on their dramatically different lives.
At the end of the long summer days, sleep would beckon. My parents would retire to a well-appointed guest room with a tall 4 poster bed, linen sheets, and rose scented pillow cases, but my brother and I, we were the lucky ones. We got to slip into crisp sheets on freshly made chaise lounge beds, to be lulled to sleep by crickets, cool breezes and the scents of summer.
With the extreme heat this summer has brought us, I decided that my children needed to experience the sweet sleep of a sleeping porch. Normally, our sunroom is set up with chairs and a table and a single bed, where we often have tea in the evenings, enjoying the cool breeze and lovely views. The sunroom affords us extra living space during the late spring, summer and early fall. But this year, we removed the chairs and tables from the sunroom and added a cot and a "nest", along with the single bed that already occupied one corner, to create a sleeping porch for the children.
The children love their new sleeping quarters! They awake refreshed and rejuvenated, even from the warmest nights. Each night, the kids can't wait to crawl into their beds, made with crisp sheets, and fall asleep, cooled by night breezes and lulled by the sweet music of crickets.
And so, my children get a tiny glimpse into the lives of their Great-Great Grandparents, through our own, little, make-shift sleeping porch.