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Posts Tagged ‘Memorial Day’

Deprivation is a bastard. These days many more of earth’s human inhabitants are feeling it than usual.

We can be grateful that nature gets us out of our heads. Think about it: Unlike catastrophes like war or flood or famine, which leave their unmistakeable mark upon the landscape and make nowhere a refuge, when it comes to this pandemic, you can’t see it outdoors — at least for the most part. Some wear masks. I spot the odd discarded plastic glove on the curb from time to time. But aside from that, nature doesn’t know we’re in crisis. The starling that just flew past your window, the chipmunk that high-tailed into the brush beside the lake, the wind nudging the sycamore leaves, the sea foam that just misses your feet — none of these have any idea that this spring is like no other spring. Getting enveloped by nature now is a benediction that wipes clean our minds. For a little while.

In the U.S., today is Memorial Day, when we remember troops who died in service to our country. They fought, at least in theory, to hold fast to our nation’s ambitious ideals — something about equality and the pursuit of happiness — and died trying.

Nearly every day since mid-March I have been exploring, often for miles at a time, sometimes with a plan and sometimes without one, and nature has been a hugely welcome affront to the caustic headlines. Our energy stores are fried, our hands are dried out from the bleach solutions that have become our daily modus operandi. And it’s a long way until election day in November.

But the lushness in nature is in stark and audacious contrast. The lilacs aren’t just fragrant, they’re triggering tears of relief; sycamore leaves aren’t just green, they’re Hobbit-shire magical. Maybe it’s just this spring. But I’ll take it.

Not sure how I missed that there’s a tradition of dropping flowers into water on Memorial Day. A Wiccan friend tells me this is an ancient method for offering gifts or honoring someone. Look at us, remembering something like that.

Today I climbed down a steep incline to drop a yellow poplar flower into the lake. I thought about the soldiers who had lushness in mind when they suited up and went to battle, that they were fighting for abundance, our right to plenty. They believed our ideals and that wish were worth it. I’m so, so tired, and that belief is a tiny candle flame inside me right now, but tiny counts.

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Indulge me a bit, will you? I wait all year for the tiny crepe stand on the Asbury Park boardwalk to open, and I always eat my inaugural crepe on Memorial Day weekend. The four kids working behind the counter at this place have about as much space as Trader Joe’s allows between cash registers, yet they duck and move between the six hot plates with impressive efficiency. Which is good, because the crowd I was standing in was hungry, as the sun-soaked tend to be.

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This year my sister, who loves to say the crepes made here at this little tin shack are better than those she had in Paris, got the cannoli crepe. It comes with cannoli cream and little chocolate chips. Her friend got a S’mores crepe, with ground Graham crackers, baby marshmallows, and a squiggle of chocolate syrup.

I get what I always get: the Elvis Presley, containing Nutella, sliced bananas, and crumbled Reese’s peanut butter cups—everything but the barbiturates, as I told my friends. (Since you were wondering, there is a Priscilla, which has all of the Elvis ingredients plus vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. Elvis could have put away the latter and then ordered in country-style ribs for dessert, so I’d switch the names of the crepes, myself. But I can still eat in peace.)

Getting crepes over Memorial Day afternoon, standing in the late-day sunshine in the middle of a crowded boardwalk, cooing over them and feasting on their gooshy warmth with plastic forks—it’s a very simple, very communal, and intensely satisfying experience. I don’t eat like this normally. It’s almost dizzying, actually, the degree to which this luxury tops the scales of my brain and taste buds. And full disclosure, I saved half and it’s in my fridge. Really cold, it’s good, too. A treat worth the wait once more…at least until tomorrow morning.

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