An Evening in July

Sunset was near. I walked to the street to the mailbox and saw our neighbor Sarah drive up. I was eager to see her as I wanted to tell her about the Rose Breasted Grosbeak that had appeared in the large pine tree outside our kitchen window. Sarah’s bird feeder in her back yard attracts a wide variety of birds and the Grosbeak, feathered in well-defined black and white with a bright red patch on its breast, is among the most beautiful. Sarah had seen a Grosbeak too last week and we talked about how the bird, large among his peers, claims exclusivity when at the feeder. Looking skyward, we saw black clouds swirling in the west. The clouds were getting close. Prudence dictated we cut short our talk and bid each other good evening. Continue reading “An Evening in July”

Christmas 2018

Memory is a mystery: years of experiences are compacted into some enigmatic space, or spaces, in the brain. Memory is inconsistent: we remember some things well.  Some, not so much. Memory can be faulty; “has it really been that long since we talked?” Memory can be debilitating; ask a combat veteran, or someone who suffered childhood misadventure. And memory can be exhilarating: think about the time you first met that special  person in you life.

If we’re fortunate, recollections continue to float to the surface of consciousness. We celebrate anniversaries, mourn losses, share old fellowships, and play Jeopardy. But how do we sort out the order of this jumbled collection of events and happenings of a lifetime? It seems a calendar is necessary. What happened before this? Did that really come after such and such? And for many of us, numbers that end in zero mark special occasions to recall past events with solemnity or joy.

Through all of 2018, now about to close, every month has evoked a vivid memory from fifty years ago. Fifty, a nice round number ending in zero. Vivid recollections. All too vivid. Continue reading “Christmas 2018”

Kearney, Nebraska

Folks in the Cornhusker State seem to appreciate pronunciations that are a bit off-kilter to most Americans. Beatrice, a town due south of the State Capitol Lincoln, is spoken Bee-AT’-riss, with the accent on the second syllable. Kearney is pronounced Carnie, as in county fair concessionaire. Counter-intuitive to most, perhaps, but the folks here won’t have it any other way. Perhaps it’s a clever method of identifying out-of-towners. Continue reading “Kearney, Nebraska”

Westward Ho!

The first day’s drive to Portage, Indiana, went smoothly. Good weather and light traffic. As usual, Susan’s time driving encountered all the construction zones–which abound on the Ohio Turnpike. The second day’s drive was more challenging. Very heavy rain at the Mississippi River border of Illinois and Iowa, and when we arrived in Grinnell, Iowa, we were ready to crash for a nap before dinner, but instead heard the TV announcements of Tornado warnings all through central Iowa. We grabbed a bite to eat at the very good Frontier Diner in Grinnell, then hunkered down in our room with our eyes affixed to the TV coverage of storm activity, worsening from a tornado watch to a tornado warning. We were fortunate here in Grinnell, as Marshalltown to our north and Pella and Bondurant to our south sustained very bad property damage from active tornadoes. The watch condition ended at 10:00 PM, after which we both got much needed sleep for the night. Next stop: Kearney, Nebraska, about six hours down the road.