This past weekend a friend and I were talking about shoes. I said I had bought two new pairs, one brown and one off-white. She said, "but it's not Memorial Day yet, so you can't wear the white ones," and we both laughed. Later I wrote her a note:
In my home town we always had a parade, the first of the long summer season of parades and fireman's conventions and county fairs, and the band would always participate. Along with the American Legion members and auxiliary (in their white gloves) and the firemen and the boy- and girl-scouts, we marched over to the Episcopal cemetery where there were old graves of soldiers (and where I caught snakes and my mother taught me to read and later I walked with boys, longing for kisses), and the best trumpeter in the band played taps and there were brief prayers and speeches and the laying of wreaths. The parade always ended up at the American Legion, where someone recited the Gettysburg Address and "In Flanders Field." I had to do it one year, when I was a junior, I think.
Our peonies usually weren't blooming quite yet, but Grandma usually gave several baskets-full a few weeks later for the graduation ceremonies. I think the white with red-flecks variety was "Festiva Maxima." I planted three bushes in my garden last year, and they're all full of buds. Because of the noxious goutweed I didn't want to bring to Canada, I left the one bush from her garden - early dark red ones - in Vermont. When the petals finally fell, I had a private ritual of picking them up - each fallen head as substantial as a handkerchief of heavy silk - and scattering them on my vegetable garden, where they lay like feathers from an exotic bird, which is not far from what she was.