A day like this in early Spring would be the beginning of our “stoop sitting” season.
There were no driveways in that old urban neighborhood, with no basketball hoops in them. But we all had stoops. The stoop was for the kids; the upstairs porches for the adults, from which they reigned over that blue-collar neighborhood with watchful eyes.
My cousins and I would sit on the bottom step of the 3-family-house stoop (where most of them lived) and play Jacks on the sidewalk or Stoop Ball (which we called Fly’s Up) from the first two steps using a super pinkie ball. The sidewalk itself would be chalked with games of Girls Are and Hopscotch. I couldn’t find anything online defining our game of “Girls Are,” and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s just the name we gave it. Maybe it’s even a game we made up.
There wasn’t much of a backyard, back then, and within what there was my grandparents had planted various greeneries that I thought were weeds until I saw my grandmother make concoctions for her arthritis out of them.
Now I live in a middle class neighborhood where people don’t seem to ever sit out on their stoops. Except for us.
The front of our house, with its minimal stone stoop, faces south, so it’s the best place to sit and have a cup of tea in the morning or relax after dinner. In a few weeks it will have plants on and around it, but it’s still too cold to get the plants in. But we all sat out there in the sun for a while today — the only family in the neighborhood who stoop sits.
We do have a back yard, where the vegetable garden will go again, bigger this year, and where perennials wait for a stronger sun while crocuses, daffodils, and a yucca plant that never dies off in the winter are pressing their way into Spring. And in the shady side yard, where the irises are are just sprouting, the heavy old cement Pan statue that I have hauled around through four moves, now sits, down and dirty, playing his silent pipes.
It’s almost Spring, and it’s stoop sitting time.