The temperature is just above freezing but the sunshine feels as good as a lover’s touch. This old comfortable bench is where my wife sits in our yard to smoke and seek relief from the physical pain of a weakened spine.
Birds come and go at the feeder while quail and doves prowl the ground for dropped seed. They sing through their struggle that seems to never end.
Traffic noise invades from the always busy roads below and above. (Is there no escape from the freedom lie of automobiles?)
Maybe this is the best place on Earth for us. Our own yard and garden where we have toiled and played with children and talked with guests and each other and sat and felt the origins of us.
I hope the Public Broadcasting Service survives this administration. I hope we and this country survive this assault on decency.
But I have to complain about the PBS fund-raising infomercials. The experts who stand there very convincingly to hawk their products. Unbelievable.
Here come the weeds. You can’t see them yet but as a longtime something of a garden caretaker I can feel and hear them growing, ready to crack the surface.
The stuff we like is also growing. Plants from forgotten bulbs are breaking green. The lilac bush whose buds have been ready since before Christmas. And the insects are coming at us with the first bit of sunshine.
Only one patch of sad lawn remains in our yard. I’ve planted stones and old bricks throughout. Lawn belongs in parks and maybe not so much there. We live in the West where precious water should not be wasted on useless greenery.
We can lose many things in our lifetime. Everything, eventually.
Some things, however, can never be taken. Things that highlight the mystery of us. Here are some:
My 32 years of dedicated work on the staff of a daily newspaper.
The children I helped raise and provide for, despite their choices.
My marriage of four decades and counting.
Trips to the desert and mountains.
Hours at the seashore.
Both were Marines.
One was twice wounded in Vietnam. He was a devoted member of a local and perhaps notorious bikers club for over three decades.
The other served during the same war. He was a proud member of the NRA and John Birch Society.
These things stood out as I read their recent obituaries. Which would you rather have had a beer or two with?
My Uncle Bob drove tanks in Africa and Europe with Gen. Patton.
I don’t know if he actually “drove” them or was ever graced by Patton’s presence. I recently saw the movie “Fury” and was wondering if his shit was that bad. I never heard him speak about World War II. My brother Frankie remembers him saying, “It was hot.”
He liked to keep old cars running and gladly shared them. The old tires were his worst enemy. He could strip them down without any special equipment using lug wrenches and such, a Pall Mall dangling from his lips. Must have been easier than fixing tank treads.
The Pall Malls disappeared after a cancer scare. It took surgery to discover it was only pneumonia.
He drove truck. Drove them like he might have a tank. Slow and steady. I was in the backseat when a California trooper pulled him over on an L.A. freeway for going too slow.
He drove me before dawn for my first day in the Navy. He said I’d never regret it. That wasn’t true.
He was good to me. After Patton I guess my shit wasn’t much.