When I look in the mirror, I see Dad’s eyes looking back at me. I also have his height, frame, ears and hand gestures. I like the physical features I share with my dad, but I’m surprised when I display his behaviors — especially those I vowed to avoid when I was young, smug and critical.
On May 30, small flags will be planted; and those who remember will quietly gather in cemeteries across our land. Taps will soar, echo and fade. The names of men and women who died serving our country during times of war will be read, and crowds either large and small, but always attentive, will listen with gratitude to the roll call of our honored dead.
When I think of my mother, as I did on Mother’s Day, I see her in her mid-60s. She sits in her favorite rocking chair in a circle of lamplight that softens her wrinkles and highlights her brown hair. As she sews a button on one of Dad’s shirts, her wedding band, thinned by 50 years of wear, flashes in the lamp’s glow.
Mrs. Huff was noted for her monumental bosom and the hiccupping soprano. She used to teach my third-grade class the song “Far Away Places.” Singing lyrics about the alluring glamour of lands across the sea shaped my desire to visit “places with strange sounding names,” and motivated my collection of unusual words that describe travelers’ experiences or emotions. Some of my favorites follow.
Men have fewer fashion crises and quandaries than women. To be considered well dressed, a man buys a limited number of items: shirts, jackets, pants, underwear, shoes, socks, belts and a tie or two.
In September of 2015, ten scientists won the satirical Ig Nobel Prize for scientific studies of questionable worth. When I read about the tongue-in-cheek prize and the dubious research it rewarded, I felt better about my failed attempts to participate in an extra-curricular science fair in seventh grade.
Every year, since moving to Craig in 1996, I wait for the spring of Disney movies and picture books: birds swooping, squirrels frolicking, flowers blossoming along my path and colts auditioning new legs.
Gazing out the window at Craig’s snow-bound, January world, I remembered, chuckled and thought, “This is perfect snow-turtle weather.” I ran with my fourth-grade classmates as fast as I could across a playground of snow and ice. Reaching the turtle-building area first, I slid to a stop, knelt, and quickly began to shape a solid, knee-high mound of snow with my mittened hands, thinking maybe this time I would win.
When the first heavy snow fell, we expressed surprise and dismay as we shivered in thin jackets, stomped our sneakers free of flakes, and bought new snow shovels.
Another unending January indifferent to the discomforts and inconveniences caused by its weather. Noses run. Furnaces strain. Clumps of melting snow litter entryways, and glazed patches of ice glint with menace beneath a weak winter sun.