In search of story


May 30.22 Memorial Day: Coping, but barely

You’d have to be as old as I am, dear reader, to remember the days of packing red geraniums into the trunk of a car and heading out to cemeteries. Every year at the end of May. It was boring. I hated it.

We’d clean winter’s debris off the graves and then plant the flowers. Guess who was sent for water. There were faucets in the cemetery spaced with the express purpose of making kids walk miles with sloshing, heavy watering cans.

There was always a moment of prayer. What videos play in our heads at such moments! I can only imagine the videos that played in my grandparents’ and my parents’ heads: wars, polio and flu epidemics, floods, heart attacks, cancer.

The video in my head had to do with my bike, waiting for me to start summer vacation.

My complaints, registered every five minutes or so, were roundly ignored; it was Decoration Day, after all, and this tedious, bleak trek to the cemetery was non-negotiable, as were many family dicta. Against my young will, I learned that it wasn’t about the geraniums; it was about lives lived. Real lives. It was about remembering.

Decoration Day became Memorial Day and a three-day weekend, honoring real lives lost in service to this country’s ideals. Remembering.

This Memorial Day comes in a bloodbath. Locally and globally we are awash in the blood of real lives. I hope those who lost their lives in service to this country, in service to ideals, aren’t sorry they made the sacrifice. And I wish all kids were thinking only about their bikes.


My family served, but none died in service.

I do not pretend to the grief this day renews for many.

But I do think of the graves and the real lives lost.

It becomes harder to remember peace.




Connections: May 6.17

When onions and basil

tickle your nose

and geranium fire

crackles and glows

when dianthus and peppers

salad burnet

waft up a heavenly

eau de toilette,

when honey is jarred

from local clover

you’ll know this soggy dark

spring is over!

(It WILL be over some day, won’t it?)

Many more thanks to the S.W. Berg Photo Archives.



Postcard from the doldrums

It is mid-July and there is no cloud of lavender-blue over the lavender. It struggles to grow, let alone bloom. The geranium, though bravely deep ruby, teeters on rickety stem. The bright white vinca remains modestly single-bloomed and close to the earth. They want sun.

There is only rain.

Leaves and flowers sag under waterweight, stoop-shouldered, hollow-backed. People bowed now too, eyes listlessly downward with no horizon to look toward, neither sunset nor sunrise.

There is only rain.

Gardening feeds my spirit, and, just as surely as the squirrels, I store acorns of sunlit troweled moments to sustain me in the winter ahead. But not this year. How is a gardener to make sense of life without a gardening season? Gardeners need sun.

There is only rain.

Fields turned to swamps, the corn, beggarlike, stands suppliant in murk and muck, helpless, roots melting into slime. It wants light.

There is only rain.

We know Indiana weather is imperfect. We know tornadoes dwell in our skies. We know that the writer of Genesis was describing certain months in Indiana when he wrote “darkness covered the earth.” We don’t expect much here, but this sunless summer would send even Job into a grumbly opprobrium.

Ponds of clay soup, downspout gushers, rushing curbside streams, pooling in tire prints, rot in our fences, knots in our lungs,

there is only rain.


Noon, 13 July

Noon, 13 July