Monday, June 9, 2008

"No more teachers, no more books..."

Seth and Carden are out of school and preschool for the summer. They are so thrilled with the prospect of adhering to the daily schedule Carden drew up:

Morning: play
Afternoon: relax
Evening: have fun

We treated them to breakfast in bed on their first day of vacation and broke the news that despite it being officially summer vacation, we would not be having popsicles or running in the sprinklers since it was only 60 degrees and threatening rain.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Memorial Day

My childhood Memorial Day memories usually involved barbecues, a trip to Northern California to see my grandparents, my dad's birthday, the beginning of summer--all typical three-day-weekend events. Remembering war veterans seemed pretty removed from my teenage existence.

Now I live within two blocks of a small-town cemetery. I've learned that there's a unique culture to small-town cemeteries. In the interest of disclosure, I have always liked cemeteries. I endure a lot of teasing for this little quirk, but I find them fascinating places--the design of the gravestones, the inscriptions, the stories, all make me wonder about who these people were. Plus cemeteries are quiet and peaceful.

Like all graveyards, the small-town cemetery down the street is full of interesting names, dates, and stories--ask my kids about John Brown trying to race the train to the crossing with his team and wagon (he lost). It is not, however quiet and peaceful. We moved into our house in November, when many of the graves were decorated with fall leaves and gourds. "How nice," we thought. A few weeks later the poinsettias and Christmas stockings went up. "How interesting," we thought. In February they were replaced by red foil hearts, and in March and April the headstones sprouted shamrocks and Easter eggs. "How weird," we thought. We wondered if every neighbor had a box in the basement marked "Holiday Grave Decorations."

But Memorial Day is The Big Day at our local cemetery. The roads are packed; almost every grave sports a potted mum or two. You feel bad for the few without a floral tribute. Large groups of extended families gather to decorate the graves together, and for a week afterward, the cemetery looks more like a garden wedding than a final resting place.

I'm back to thinking, "how nice." The California cemeteries I remember are largely impersonal--heavy on the decorum, light on the decor. Say what you will about kitschy windchimes and Santa hats, it's nice to know that dear old Auntie Maud may be gone, but not forgotten.