Tuesday, March 10, 2009

lumberjacks and flapjacks

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.


14 comments:

  1. We watch entirely too much TV. (Our neighborhood was like yours growing up - neighbors gathering spur of the moment, kids running around, dirty and tired - they way it SHOULD be!)

    Hubs & I have decided that when we move, our satellite package will be reduced greatly. (We're on contract for a few months.)

    I love netflix, however - in addition to unlimited rentals in a month, there's a lot you can watch online, on demand. Sure fills the gaps when there's nothing else to do!

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  2. It is interesting and wonderful that the outdoor memories from childhood always seem to precede the indoor ones.

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  3. Our summers are largely TV free. Our winters, though, are a different story. Turning off the tube is a terrific way to enjoy living -- really living. We are more likely to hike or bike or play crazy games together when it's out of the picture.

    Thanks for the great post! - Julia

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  4. I love those evening walks. Some of the best conversations happen then.

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  5. We used to play outside for hours on end when I was a kid. I am seriously contemplating turning off the TV for long spells very soon. I'm not so sure the kids will be thrilled. Whatev.

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  6. We have the TV on a lot...but often I just like it on as background noise when I am home alone in the day...the silence here sometimes is SO loud!!

    but like you...if it's good weather it is time to enjoy outside!

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  7. We may have to get a TV when we move to colder climes, I'm afraid... But for now, I love our TV-less life.

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  8. I always limited my kids' time on t.v. and video games. My boys still rarely watch any t.v. - and rarely is almost never. My daughter likes t.v. and watches a talk show or something every day. She loves Ellen and/or Oprah.

    So, some of what we try to teach sticks.

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  9. But, but, BUT NCAA basketball ROCKS!

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  10. I'm so with you. We are pretty limited in tv watching, with the heavier viewing happening in the midst of the frozen winter. In the summer, we hardly miss it.

    However, for my husband and me, watching tv shows on DVD has given us a nightly date--a special thing we've shared--these last years. Plus, we've seen some kickass shows.

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  11. March is a month that can't make up its mind. Cold? Hot? Windy? Still? Rainy? Sunny? AAAGGGGHHH!

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  12. We don't do TV during the week. We TIVO all week then eat dinner at 5 on Sundays and watch our shows straight through til bedtime. Of course, our kids are older.

    I'm with you on summer nights for gathering outside with neighbors--my cul-de-sac neighborhood is perfect for that and I look forward to it so much.

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  13. I tried to be TV free... but with winter, there are some days that I am grateful it is there. I don't have actual channels because we never signed up for any, so I just download podcasts of interest. Really, there is a LOT of crap on the telly!

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  14. When our two oldest kids were very young, and we were living in the small town of Lovell, Wyoming, we would go walking almost every night. What a great time for us all!

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Spill it, reader.