Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day


Saturday we drove 30 minutes north to Grant's Pass to visit the Grower's Market and buy some plants for the vegetable garden. I picked up some heirloom tomatos, celery, eggplant and basil. The garden got a head start two weeks ago with lettuce, snow peas, peppers and corn. (I think the birds got the carrot seeds so we'll have to try a different tack on that.) It didn't even occur to us that, being Memorial Day and all, we would run into an enormous parade that had most of the downtown area closed to traffic. After our visit to the market, we stopped and enjoyed the show for a while. The whole city seemed to be participating, to the extent that it's a wonder anyone was left to watch. There was a Volkswagon club comprising every sort of Beetle you can imagine, a huge children's string orchestra (the bass fiddles were on wheels and the cellos ran alongside carrying chairs), the local jet-boat organization, all sorts of floats and semi trailers, athletic groups, Boy Scout troops--it just went on and on. It lasted for about three hours, though after twenty minutes we felt overwhelmed and headed back to the car. Maybe people watch for a while then run back and join the parade, I don't know. At any rate, it was very festive.

Medford is about 75% retirees, most of them veterans of one sort or another, so the cemeteries are packed with visitors laden with flowers and American flags. The neighbors are playing horseshoes and barbecuing. The roads are crowded with campers, boats and every kind of recreational vehicle you can imagine. People head up to the mountain lakes, out to the rivers, or down to northern California. Spring was long, cold and wet this year (sleet in May!) so the abrupt change to clear skies and sunny warmth has propelled everyone outside to enjoy it.

We stayed home and cleaned. Not very exciting but relaxing all the same. The back yard needs a major overhaul, and the patio is stuffed with all the junk you throw out there during the winter and figure to deal with when it gets warm. Well, here we are.

On another Memorial Day note, I am overwhelmed by the response to Matterhorn, Karl Marlantes' superb novel about a troop of Marines trapped in an ambush during the Vietnam War. Just reading the comments on Audible, many of them from Vietnam vets, is a moving experience. Karl recently emailed our narrator, Bronson Pinchot, to let him know how much he liked the recording. Bronson is a talented, multi-faceted reader, and I've yet to find a book he can't pull off. But Matterhorn posed a unique challenge, with its huge cast of characters and authentic military tone. He spent a lot of time on the phone with Karl and they became very friendly. He even confessed to me that he had a bit of a breakdown at the end of the book. So it it meant a lot to him to get a nod from the author.

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