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Liz Writes Life 5-30-17

Liz Writes Life

May 30, 2017

Liz Writes Life

Published in Siskiyou Daily News, Yreka, CA

For those who don’t know, today is the real Memorial Day. Yep, that’s right, at least for me. Originally, Memorial Day was May 30th, but not for long. I’ll get back to that in a minute.

Time for recollection — sometime in the 1960s, I remember my Dad picking a large bunch of fragrant, lavender lilac blossoms. It was a Saturday and I had gone with him up to the Sullivan ranch that he leased for his Hereford cattle herd. It is up Wildcat Creek near Callahan. The dry hillside yard in front of the old white vacant Victorian Sullivan house boasted huge lilac bushes in full bloom.

Now, my Dad wasn’t much on flowers, so I guess that’s one reason why I recall this day. It was also fairly warm and I think I was allowed to ride the entire trip to our home in Etna in the back of his pickup. Yep, a real treat with the wind blowing against my face, sitting with several dogs – their tongues hanging out! Oops, a no-no nowadays. But, you gotta understand that my Dad never drove very fast at that stage of his life even on Hwy 3.

Then, I remember being at my Grandma Dillman’s home on Wagner Way in Etna and I think a batch of giant red peonies were also picked. What is odd, as childhood memories go, I don’t recall going to the Etna Cemetery to place the flowers. My Grandpa George Dillman was buried there, along with my Dad’s siblings: Bob, Con and Clista Dillman. Hum, a bit of melancholy nostalgia with question marks.

For quite a few years, I have been putting fabric flowers on family and friends’ graves. Now, my Grandma Dillman, Dad, Mom, more of Dad’s siblings and a lot of Fowler relatives are resting there as well. I buy 25 flowers and try to make them stretch as my way to remember my family. This year, I chose the color red and also red, white and blue. They are stunning!

Our cemeteries are beautiful in Scott Valley. The American Legion Perry Harris Post #260 places hundreds of American flags on veterans’ graves. Thank you to all who take care of our cemeteries and those who remember to place flowers, whether they are fabric or real.

Because Memorial Day seems to have sort of lost its real significance, I decided to look it up on the Internet.

Apparently, placing flowers on graves of loved ones has been done since ancient times. But, it was the huge loss of over 600,000 soldiers in the American Civil War that affected nearly every family and community in the USA. It was first known as Decoration Days and specifically honored soldiers, who had died. In some rural mountain areas of American South, extended families still hold family reunions, religious services and or picnic dinners to honor their soldiers.

Following the assassination, in April 1865, of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, commemorating an honored loved one seemed to take on a new cultural significance. Women took the leadership role of establishing a formal practice of decorating graves; and many African Americans — those former slaves — gave huge significance to the observance of Decoration Day after the Civil War.

By 1882, the name had gradually changed to Memorial Day. But, believe it or not, Memorial Day was not declared the official name by federal law until 1967. A few years later, another congressional law took effect in 1971 changing the day from May 30th to the last Monday in May to create a three-day holiday.

Because of that Memorial Day in my early years, I still watch to see if the lilacs and red peonies will be blooming on May 30th. Once again, this year, the lilacs were way ahead of schedule and were about to pop open at my house, when that cold frost killed them on May 7th. My peonies actually started blooming in mid-May and the blooms on one bush are falling down. Nope, didn’t happen this year, but I have a nice memory.

Garden

It took all last week to finish planting the garden. We got the first crop of corn in, along with cucumbers, watermelon, cantaloupe, sunflowers, pumpkins, spinach, radishes, bok choy and another Chinese-type cabbage. The green beans were planted two weeks ago. Oh, I ate several snow peas – raw — and pulled two bunching onions for a dinner, cuz I ran out of onions.

My eyes were bigger than my energy level, as I purchased more flower plants than I normally do. I planted a garden corner of alyssum, ice plants, zinnia, vinca, begonias and transplanted several cosmos for the back. The Shasta daisies are starting to bloom there. Hoping for a pretty spot!

Weekend

Larry Alexander tells me there will be two huge sales during the Scott Valley-wide Yard Sale weekend. (We are having one too! Want an old cider press?) An auction of antiques and collectables will be at The REC in Fort Jones at 1 p.m. on Sat. June 3rd. On Sun. June 4th, a ranchers, farmers and construction equipment auction will be held at the old Marlahan Ranch, now called, Clary Rose Farm, at 1 p.m.

On Friday, June 9th a Community Fire Season Preparedness meeting will be held at The REC at 5 p.m. with a complimentary barbecue followed by speakers sharing vital fire info.

POW

Speakers for the Scott Valley Protect Our Water meeting on Thurs. June 1st will be Siskiyou Co. Supervisors Lisa Nixon, from Dist. 4, and Ray Haupt, Dist. 5, Erin Ryan from Congressman LaMalfa’s office and Richard Marshall, President of Siskiyou Water Users. It will be held at the Fort Jones Community Center at 7 p.m. Bring a dessert to share as we eat before, during and after.

Liz Bowen is a native of Siskiyou County and lives near Callahan. Check out her websites: Pie N Politics.com and Liz Bowen.com or call her at 530-467-3515.

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