Friday, May 22, 2015


Hallie and Nick will be here tonight, and at some point during the weekend, we’ll decorate family graves at the Gilbert Cemetery. That’s fine, but I always feel a little guilty when Memorial Day activities don’t take me to the Normal Hill Cemetery in Lewiston to decorate my mother’s grave. Mother loved Memorial Day and visited a number of regional cemeteries – Lewiston, Troy, Orofino, Gilbert, Grangeville, and Cavendish – to place cut flower bouquets and/or planted flower boxes on family graves.

Mother knew that no one languishes in a cemetery, but her parents had a long tradition of visiting the cemetery in Troy, and continuing that tradition was special. When I was a little girl, we dressed up in our best dresses to do our cemetery work. Sometimes the wind would whip our skirts right over our heads. Gradually the dress code relaxed to more practical garb.

I had to laugh the other day as I passed a hanging flower basket at Albertson’s. Red clover spilled out of those baskets and looked just lovely. However, red clover spreads “like wildfire” and I couldn’t help but think that no one would appreciate such a gift, especially not the cemetery maintenance crew.

One long ago summer of my youth, we had an infestation of red clover in our yard. In serious tones, Mother assigned me to do the lunch dishes every day (wash, dry, and clean the kitchen) while she took an old paring knife and went out to the west side yard to dig the red clover out of the lawn. And that’s the way it went for the rest of the summer. She sat right down on the grass and dug out that red clover, root by root -- a painstaking task, I assure you.
One day, the neighbor came out and asked Mother what she was doing. Mother explained. “But red clover is so pretty,” said the neighbor. “In fact, I just planted some.” Mother explained that once you have red clover it’s impossible to get rid of it. With that, the neighbor rushed to dig out what she had planted.

I don’t know the rest of the story – whether or not Mother was successful. I doubt it. I do remember her progress was really slow. Digging was too little, too late. I suspect eventually some chemical was applied to control the red clover. Perhaps Mother was just making a point. But – Mother was a determine individual. She gave it her best shot, whatever her motives. KW

[Today I would capture Mother working in the yard with my camera, but in those days we didn't waste film on such activities. The pictures here were taken today at the Gilbert farmhouse.]

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