The day before I left to visit my sister Michele and her boyfriend Nick in Jacksonville, FL this past weekend, she gave me some bad news: they had sewer problems. As in, 'we can only flush three times a day and we have to shower outside' kind of sewer problems. Eek. When she mentioned this to my dad before I came, he said, "Don't worry. Jess can pee anywhere." (True story.)
Luckily, the plumbers were able to come out on Saturday. So while we were busy cleaning up the house for guests and sprucing up the front porch, the plumbers were out back working. We had to spruce because Nick and Michele were hosting a singer/songwriter on their porch at 3 pm as part of Jacksonville's Porchfest. So, we sprayed off the porch furniture, put new candles out, etc, and were basically ready for guests to stop by around 1 when the festival started.
I decided to head out to take some pics, and as I was walking back, I get a text from Michele: "I just heard a guy say he thinks this tree is gonna fall." Turns out when the plumbers were sawing through a very large tree root to install the new sewer line, the tree attached to the root began to sway. Working in construction has its perks, and in less than an hour, Nick had a crew of the fastest moving tree guys I've ever seen working away. So while Porchfest was in full swing with a band playing directly across the street, a guy was climbing a sycamore in the side yard and taking it down, branch by branch. I must admit, it was almost as good a show as the band. Fortunately that band was loud, and while a few people definitely turned their heads and probably wondered why anyone would be taking a tree down right then, it all turned out fine.
Once that excitement was over, we got to go out and enjoy the festival. I had no idea I was in for such a treat. The streets were closed off, and for blocks around there were people in the street, listening to music (multiple porches had different musicians playing at different times), hanging out, and availing themselves of some seriously delicious food truck fare. (I had some spicy shrimp sliders, a delicious pasta salad, and a bite of the yummiest grilled cheese ever. Pretty sure the magic in that sandwich had to do with the sweet-spicy relish. So good.)
A lady I met told me part of the inspiration behind this particular Porchfest was to continue the neighborhood's long tradition of sitting outside on porches. (Springfield is an old historic neighborhood in Jacksonville that is slowly being revitalized.) Turns out porchfest as a concept originated in Ithaca in 2007, and now these types of festivals are springing up all around the country. Check here to see if there's one near you.