By LYNNE IRONS
Since I write this column a week ahead, I am always a week behind. Now there is a statement describing my life. Nevertheless, I have a few offerings concerning Memorial Day. I guess memory might be the key word.
There are some plants and gardening chores reminiscent of the day. The Iceland poppies are beginning to bloom and the lilacs are at their peak. Bridal wreath spirea is spilling over old porches, the first tree peony appears, azaleas and rhododendrons are everywhere, peas are, hopefully, sending out some blooms, potatoes are poking through the hay mulch, and serious vegetable planting begins in earnest.
I was loving a new weed that arrived in my garden in the past few years. I finally gave Abigail Higgins a ring for some identification. Regretfully, she encouraged me to rethink my fondness for it. It is garlic mustard, Alliaria petiolatea, a tall, white-blooming old potherb. It was brought here in colonial days from England as an addition to soups and stews during the long, bleak winters. Both the leaves and roots are edible. It does run rampant, however, and spreads into the woodlands where its roots discourage tree seedlings with some sort of chemical reaction. One can only hope I remove some of it around here.
The owner of Pinetree Seeds in New Gloucester, Me. (my favorite) was on National Public Radio the other day. He said sales of vegetable seeds are way up this year. He has observed this in the past when the economy goes south. I, for one, am making a commitment to grow more food this year. It drives me crazy to think about buying food from hundreds, even thousands of miles away. Talk about gas prices.
What an excellent opportunity for me to segue into a couple of political topics. Unable to practice restraint of tongue and pen, I am about to take a couple of risks.
First of all, I think gas should be more expensive. How else will we be able to face the unpleasant reality of our over-indulgent behaviors? It was more than $5 a gallon in Europe several years ago. I forgot my water yesterday and had to purchase an eight-ounce bottle for $2. Let’s see. That is $32 a gallon and I have to toss the petroleum-based plastic bottle into a landfill with billions of others. I was thinking of those unfortunate families who have lost loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan and how they would be happy to have them alive and paying money for oil no matter how much it costs.
Another unpopular thought I entertain — you’ll hate this — is that we need to reinstate the draft. What a wake-up call for those whose children are happily pursuing their life’s dreams. Maybe we would have a national light bulb go off: Hey, wait a minute, you mean my child would go to war? Maybe lots of folks would take some action. We have been at war for five years and don’t seem to pay it much mind.
I was in Edgartown last Friday as the elementary school paraded to the harbor for their Memorial Day observation. I remember years of parades with the veterans marching proudly. My Uncle Jocko was in a snappy drum and bugle corps. I was a majorette. That’s right — you heard it here.
During World War II, my Dad’s Navy destroyer, the USS Hambelton, was torpedoed in the Atlantic and luckily able to limp into Casablanca. He was then transferred to the USS Gatling which headed for the Pacific. Dad was in Tokyo harbor when the Japanese surrendered. He is proud of his service to the country as are we all. My Uncle Dan was wounded at Iwo Jima. Many of his mates were killed on the assault up Mount Suribachi. A local boy, Michael Strank, from Johnstown, Pa., was one of the Marines in the famous photograph.
I pulled my first carrots. They were not much bigger than a Number 2 pencil lead but none the less delicious. I have been picking and eating tons of lettuce. It is a real commitment to polish it off before it gets bitter. I also have been tossing entire baby beets into salads, better than almost a dollar apiece at the market.
We will be needing to muster up our patience for the onslaught of summer visitors. Let’s love our tourists. It is wonderful to live somewhere that is so attractive to others.