When we lived in town before moving to the country, Mr. D and I used to take walks at night. We'd travel on silent sidewalks and we'd talk about nothing and everything, enjoying the fresh night air. It seemed as though every house we passed was illuminated by the blue flickering glow of a television set--through windows we could see the inhabitants in a catatonic state gazing at the lit screens like the mosquitoes and moths were drawn to the streetlights above our heads. What a waste, I'd always think. All these people spending every night trapped indoors, missing life. If they'd only turn it off and walk outside--enjoy this beautiful night--the stars, the peace, the quiet. Maybe they'd even begin talking to each other. It was astonishing that the majority of people had nothing better to do on a summer night than watch TV during rerun season.
During my childhood we lived briefly in the suburbs and we spent our summer nights in driveways--neighbors would open a folding table and games of cards would commence. The kids played Ghost in the Graveyard or Kick the Can through the back yards until the impromptu party broke up. As an adult living in town, I wondered if our neighborhood so many years ago had been unique. Did most folks prefer to sit cooped up inside watching reruns of Seinfeld over shutting off the TV and doing something? Was this behavior spurned of habit or necessity or some other force?
Our house is generally TV free--unless someone's watching something, we turn it off. I limit the boys' viewing to certain channels and certain times. Once they're in school all day, TV is almost exclusively a weekend thing. When summer comes TV is only for mornings until the sun dries the dew outside. Summer nights are for conversations, strolls, catching up with neighbors, baseball games down at the park and listening to the crickets.
But March is a wretched horrible month. Thirty-one days of blustery weather that changes on a dime. A blizzard yesterday, freezing rain today. Muddy and 50 degrees, slushy and 20 degrees. It's the between season--high school basketball is over, baseball has yet to start. No one wants to play outside in frigid mud, yet we're sick of the winter routine of Scouts/karate/church/book club/poker/bowling that has occupied our nights since September. March is a good month for TV viewing--yet there's nothing on aside from NCAA basketball games. We haven't been regularly following many shows so it's too late in the season to start watching a series--besides, most of what is on is crap. Mr. D and I lay in bed paging through our respective books, restless for the change of season to happen. Two channels will get us through March--two channels and four shows: Ax Men on the History Channel and Good Eats, Ace of Cakes and Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on the Food Network. I'm thankful for lumberjacks and flap jacks--and that Turn off TV Week isn't until April.