Memorial Day holiday weekend.
It's one of the big ones.
It's hard to think of this as Memorial Day weekend and the end of May. Past years would have had my wife and I planning although our plans had little over my family's planning.
This year, here in bucolic Ashland, we will get together with a few friends for some discreet salads, wine, beer and dessert. Politics, books and movies will be discussed from comfortable cushioned chairs. Birds will flutter by playing flutes and violins. We'll all acquire posh Brit accents. "I say, old chum," we'll say, "Have you seen Disconnect yet? I hear it's jolly good."
I'm astonished that May is almost played out. My mental calendar still thinks it's March, maybe the start of April, not almost the start of June. Weather patterns are contributing to my confusion as it snowed on the mountains the day before yesterday. A qualifier is needed that the snow was well above our elevation, probably up around 5,000 feet.
I can imagine what's going on back in Pittsburgh where Mom and several sisters and their families reside. Plans are afoot for a massive preparation and intake of food and beverages. My brother in law, JJ, loves grilling. He will already be cleaning his grill and tools and picking up more gas. Mom will make her potato salad. You probably already knew that. It's world famous. Nobody who has tasted it has professed to tasting another better anywhere. Some of that might be politeness or kindness but my wife is one of the most fervent disciples of Mom's potato salad.
In the idyllic years, Memorial Day meant a beach trip to Keystone Lake. We typically piled into the car at sunrise so we could beat the crowds and 'get a good spot'. My job meant rushing ahead as scout on arrival. A younger sister usually went with me so we could carry goods. Sherman marched on less logistical support than Memorial Day at Keystone Beach required of our family.
Those descriptions might lead you to believe it was the Oklahoma land rush on Keystone Lake. It wasn't. We usually arrived and woke up the gate man to let us in, entering the park with little wait. Our desired spot was claimed without resorting to settling accounts by duel.
Defining a good spot: not too far from the beach or the restrooms but not too close to either. Several tables clustered close together were needed so we could drag them together and consolidate their surfaces. We wanted to be close to a grassy area where play was possible but also a place where sunbathing could be discreetly pursued. A grill was needed, with tree shade and a view of the lake without being so close that the bugs would get us. We made notes over the years and knew exactly the best desired spot's location, along with secondary and tertiary fallback positions.
Our Memorial Day outing was usually coordinated with several other families, mostly relatives. We'd arrived so early that we usually wanted to eat right away. Then we wanted to go swimming right away. Then we wanted to play right away. Then we wanted to sleep right away.
The day typically terminated by noon to one PM. By then we'd eaten fried chicken, burgers, hotdogs, cookies, chips, pretzels, pie, cake, ribs and potato salad while consuming gallons of soda, ice tea, and Kool Aid, all done between sleeping, playing frisbee and softball, and swimming.
It wasn't just that we'd arrived early and were pooped out. Besides that, Mom would be eyeing the sky with leery forecasts that rain was coming. "Look at those clouds. It looks like it's going to rain. Do those clouds look like rain clouds to you, Michael?" Of course, they did to me. Mom wanted my opinion and I felt it imcumbent to agree with her prediction. Besides, Mom was usually right.
But after that, then Mom could change her declaration. It wasn't just her that thought rain was on the way. Now it was, "Michael and I think it's going to rain."
Tear down, clean up and pack up was accomplished with a SEAL team's professional, trained execution. As we were leaving, others would rush up. "Are you leaving? Can we have your tables?" Yes, we gave them up to those poor latecomers, laughing at their foolishness - did they not see it was going to rain?
Later, at home, we'd eat leftovers for two years, play games, and watch the rain. Then we'd complain about how full we were, put lotion on our sunburns, exult over how great the food was, eat a little more and begin our planning.
Independence Day was right around the corner.
It's another big one.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com