Monday, July 23, 2018

A Dime A Daisy and Queen Anne's Lace

A summer walk can be lovely especially if there’s a light breeze,  puffy white clouds and – low humidity. And that’s how it was that evening last week. So off I went.

I hadn’t gone past our tree line when I caught the glint of something on the asphalt. Right on the white line the highway guys paint every year. It was a dime. I almost left it there, but it looked kind of needy.  As though it had been through many hands, countless checkout lines and the occasional washing machine. It had chewed up edges. Probably it had been run over many times with no one seeing it down there on the white line, suffering. So I picked it up, gave it a little salute for its valor, and twirled it in my fingers as I walked.

The Queen Anne’s Lace is profuse this year. Before my husband planted pine trees and began building his compost pile on the top of our small hill out back, we had lots of it. Not so much anymore. So when I saw it nodding and bobbing along the roadside, I snatched some. These happy ditch dwellers have always fascinated me. Made up of dozens and dozens of minute white petals it sports a tiny, deep purple flower smack in the center of the bloom. Love them. And if you know how it got its name, text me.

Just at the curve on the back road, the one where I quicken my step in case a big old truck is coming around to surprise me, I spot her. Daisy. A single flower with a couple of fallen pine cones in the grass at her feet. I could swear to you the  little leaves that sprout from her stem are hands and they were up waving at me. “Over here!” she seemed to say. No doubt she’d spotted Queen Anne and dime riding along happily in my grip and wanted to be included in the adventure. "Okay, okay," I mumble, quickly plucking Miss Daisy and scooting past the curve. No truck. Whew!

We scared two rabbits. We caught a glimpse of the railroad tracks through a neighbor’s pine tree border. We noticed the blackberry bushes, so full of promise three weeks ago, were now bereft off all fruit. As we turned away from them my companions and I strolled up the short incline back to the main road. Heading for home we saw it. A blob in the distance but growing more distinct as it came at us. A biker. A dedicated rider with his head down. Not looking up until he was only feet away. He swerved sideways, slightly, when he saw us. I raised my hand full of flowers and a dime to greet him. But. He was a dedicated biker and he took little notice.

The driveway to the old homestead was now only a few hundred feet away and then we’d be home where a small flower vase and a cozy place in my coin jar waited.

A summer walk can be lovely. Especially when you have a dime, a daisy, and Queen Anne’s Lace for company.

I’ll be taking the month of August off. See you in the Fall! We’ll go for a walk.

Image: My walking buddies

Monday, July 9, 2018

Hometown Street Fair

Are hometown craft fairs, festivals and bazaars pure Americana or what? I’ve got to think so. This past Saturday we drove the six miles necessary to see our granddaughter in a local children’s theater play, A Year With Frog and Toad. The kids did a spectacular job and I don’t suppose I need to tell you that our granddaughter excelled. Right? I didn’t need to tell you that.  

Outside on the streets of Chatham there was a fair going on. Summerfest 2018. You could smell it. Hot dogs, cotton candy, food trucks, pretzels. You could see it. Pop ups and long tables with coolers and boxes stashed beneath. Good things had come out of those boxes and hopes were high that folks would buy. You could touch it. Doll clothes, homemade toys, nifty things for dogs and cats. Earrings, metal art, and children’s books. You could hear it. “Are you registered to vote?” Yes, we answered – and she seemed pleased. Across the way the gentle voice of a singer accompanied by his own guitar floated over the crowd. Children bounced along, eyes wide and ever on the lookout for that cotton candy I mentioned and tugging at their moms to hurry up.  

On the ride home I pondered. Every sense is stimulated at these events. Besides the five we own, there are the others. A sense of hope. Every vendor hopes the day will be rain free. It was. Every vendor hopes their carefully crafted items will sell. Every shopper hopes to find one unique thing available nowhere else on earth and for a good price, too! Every town hopes the fair or the fest will be successful and reflects well on their name.

It brings out the poet in me.

Do you recall when you were ten

Excited for the fair,

That came to town like a happy clown

Who hoped to see you there?

The summer sun beat hot and sweet

With pop ups strewn along the street

And any kid who had a dime

Could simply have a glorious time

When you were ten, go back again

Remember when, remember when

Okay, that was off the cuff, but kinda how I felt as we headed for home. Thought I’d share my Americana thoughts with you. Have a super week!

Image: Free digital photos

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Casey at the Bat

Note: This story was published in Prairie Times a few years ago.
Like Father, Like Son, Like Grandson
True American Sportsmen

When my husband was in eighth grade he played basketball at a private school. His teachers were very strict but made him what he is today, I’m pretty sure. But he also had a mom who was concerned with his grades. Three cheers for mom, right? But then she got a note from one of the strict teachers who informed her that basketball was endangering his grades. Big game coming up. Big tension in the house. Basketball lost to  Mom and the teachers and one young boy was devastated. Many years later she told me about it because he never could.

Fast forward to our number one son, a baseball player. He truly loved this favorite American pastime as we did. He was a popular player and had his dad for a coach. What could be better? Many times he came through for Dad and the team and glory rose all ‘round. Until the day that has assumed the mantle of Casey at the Bat for us. Remember that old poem about the hero of Mudville? Until he struck out. All hopes were pinned on our son that day just as the hopes of Mudville were pinned on Casey.

“Get ‘em!” his teammates hollered. Lots of chatter from the outfield. My eyes and his brothers were all glued to our favorite batter. We just knew he could do it. He was a team player, and a good kid – who struck out. On the ride home our new maxi-van was barely able to hold the grief and this mother wanted to cradle her baby so badly and could not.

Pull the story into the present and another star has been born. Mr. Personality. The male heir. Funny, scary smart, and, best of all to Mom and Grandma, tenderhearted. Well, except when it comes to teasing his sister, but that’s a brother for you. It’s a kid thing. And then one summer our star faced a challenge that rocked our world. He had to absorb, cope, think about and rally against a perceived injustice. Tie score, worthy opponents(and a bit cocky), and a chance to break a tie to win against a team with no losses. It was beyond tense.

“You can do this, bud!” His mother yelled and I was so nervous for him I was speechless. 

His grandfather was keeping score and I looked over to see him squirm in his fancy lawn chair. He rubbed his legs like he always does when he’s tense and excited.

Sam clobbered the ball and got to first. One man ahead of him on second and then the ball was clobbered again and they were off. Our boy rounds third like a locomotive and  heads for home. Where chaos reined. Dust all over the place, an outfielder hum-chucking the ball for home plate. The player just ahead of Sam scoring, parents on their feet cheering, and the opposing team’s itty bitty catcher smack in the way. Sam’s way.  

Do you know how hard it is to stop a locomotive? You do? Then you know Sam couldn’t stop. With every sense dedicated to scoring and his judgment on call, he spotted the prize and decided not to slide. He did not intentionally do it but he took the itty bitty catcher out at the knees.

CRASH! Down went the poor guy and outrage exploded.

On their side for the turtle-on-its-back catcher. On our side for Sam who was suddenly caught up in a melee that got him thrown out of the game and threatened with suspension. “Yer Out!” the umpire screeched. Just like Casey in Mudville. Our boy with a red face and Niagara Falls wanting to spill from his eyes on the humiliating walk to the dugout.  And this time a mom as well as a grandma who could not cuddle their baby.

With all this drama and with a head full of memories all I can say is, there was more love in that van ride home than I’ve seen anywhere in a long time. And I’m sure there was the same on the ride home for the other team’s catcher. These were our boys, on both sides, needing every bit of understanding we could give them.

Some things are so hard. But our choice in the tough times is to rage on or to hope. And for our family’s part, we went with hope. You won’t fail if you aren’t out there playing, but you won’t win, either. In the true spirit of American sportsmanship we keep on trying and hoping. 

Image: Free Digital Photos