Joseph F. Berenato
On springtime, more sunlight and sitting on a porch
This past Sunday, we returned to Daylight Saving Time, and I, for one, could not be happier.
Don’t get me wrong: I am, by no means, a fan of the actual day where we spring our clocks ahead and we lose an hour of sleep. Like so many of you, my internal clock is thrown off for days, and I have no idea what time, day or even year it is until I finally adjust.
I do, however, love the extra waking daylight hours.
During the winter months, when I wake up and it’s still dark, it’s hard for me to get motivated. The same thing happens when I get home and it’s dark; I don’t feel like doing a blessed thing. Now, with longer days and warmer weather on the horizon, I plan to be a lot more productive.
Locally, the extra daylight gives me the chance to work in my yard later into the evening, meaning that it’s not just relegated to weekend hours when I’d rather be heading off to parts unknown.
I have a rather sizeable yard, and believe me when I tell you that one can never really appreciate the square footage they have until they’ve taken to it with a push mower. For that reason, my wife Robyn has convinced me, after much protesting, to hire a landscaper to take care of the regular lawn-mowing—a task I hold in similar regard to snow-shoveling. I’m glad that she was able to get me to sign on to the idea, because the crew she found descends on our lawn like locusts and has the entire thing taken care of in just under 20 minutes.
With regular maintenance duties no longer a worry, I have time to putter around in our garden. We have a raised bed in our backyard where we like to plant vegetables—and which, two years ago, yielded more cucumbers than we honestly knew what to do with. We made dozens of jars of relish and pickles, had cucumber salads and spears, and gave them away to family and friends and they still kept coming. We’re hoping for similar successes this year.
Would that we were so fortunate with our blueberries. When we first moved to this house, I planted a row of 10 bushes. They yielded not one berry. Then they died.
Perhaps it’s a good thing we sold our farm before it was my turn to take it over.
Additionally, this spring brings with it a promise that we haven’t felt in several years. In spring of 2020, the world was shutting down because of the pandemic, and spring of 2021 wasn’t much better. This year, however, with mask mandates all but gone and so many options available, I feel like I can go anywhere and do anything.
The funny part, though, is that many of my usual activities weren’t severely impacted by the events of the last two years, save for one: diner-hopping.
My wife and I love to travel around the tristate area, visiting different diners. You can really get a feel for new and different locales by the restaurants they have; I’ve long since held that the best food to be had anywhere is where the locals eat, and where better than a diner?
Take Hammonton, for instance. We have a bevy of wonderful restaurants—there’s not a bad one in the lot of them—but find where Hammontonians gather for breakfast and lunch and you’ll really get a feel for what the town has to offer.
We have found the same to be true in every town we’ve visited. Often, we’ll get in the car and head in this direction or that, trying to find some piece of local or family history, and cap off our successes—or failures—with the type of comfort fare that only a diner can provide.
And, with longer days coming, we have the potential for even longer daytrips—with diner dinners—without having to worry about navigating strange places under dark skies.
The longer days also let me engage in my favorite activity: sitting on my front porch, watching the world go by. Mine is a relatively quiet neighborhood, and I know most of my neighbors; we wave and chat for a while when they walk past my house. I enjoy watching the sunset from my porch, and listening to the birds, and watching the squirrels as they jump from tree to tree.
It’s relaxing—and, as I often tell my wife, relaxation can be very productive. It gives me time to clear my thoughts, deal with the pressures of the previous day and prepare myself for the next.
It’s actually quite vital, even if it may appear, to the uninformed observer, that I’m doing nothing at all.
That’s my kind of productive.
Joseph F. Berenato began as a mild-mannered reporter for The Hammonton Gazette in 1997, and returned to that position in 2019 after an 18-year sabbatical, during which he farmed, taught, became a grandfather, dug graves and wrote, but never so prolifically as he has since his return. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on social media at @JFBerenato and at www.jfberenato.com.