That same night Douglas explains to Tom the difference between what they do over the summer and what they think about those things. This analogy is clearly extended back to Douglas's understanding that he is alive, for to him it means being conscious of his existence rather than taking it for granted, and this is exactly what he starts to do with each part of the summer. Therefore, the events of the summer are at once Douglas living his life and understanding what it means to do so. In his meeting with Mr. Sanderson, because of the importance of the shoes to Douglas, the old man was able to better understand them, to feel them, and this experience gave Mr. Sanderson some of the magic that Douglas felt in the sneakers.
Just as Douglas and Tom believe that they are able to communicate better with each other than with their parents because they are from different races, the summer allows everyone to communicate more easily. The porch is a place that allows the family to gather and talk, and while the discussion itself may have importance, the truly important thing is being there. Each member of the family is free to take in the beauty of the summer evening and yet the family as a whole operates perfectly, with everyone talking and listening. The family becomes a microcosm for the entire town, as people visit each other and stop by ostensibly to talk but really just to be together in the warm night. This too is the magic of summer, the bringing together of people in order to do nothing more than delight in each other's company.