Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The unofficial start of summer

original run date May 29th
Chariton Valley News Press

Memorial Day Weekend!  The unofficial start to summer. The weekend that used to take me a month to prepare for and was over in 72 short hours.
Memorial weekend used to be the first weekend Larry and I were brave enough to pack kids, food, horses, and tent for a trail ride and campout. The kids couldn’t wait – I could. When the kids were little, we had a stock trailer, tent and Rubbermaid boxes full of camping gear for these weekends. We would shut the front gate on the trailer and try to organize all the boxes and saddles so we could still get to everything before packing like sardines into the single cab pickup and heading out for some family fun – aka chaos.
When we pulled out of the driveway, the sun was always shining. We would get to camp and the kids would bail out of the truck to find their friends. Jake would grab his tractors and trucks out of the back of the pickup and head for the nearest pile of dirt he could find. Much to my dismay, dirt was never the only thing he scooped and hauled with all those horses around.
The thing about camping with my kids when they were little was - they never seemed to mind if we went somewhere with “primitive” accommodations. Translated?  They didn’t have to shower for two days unless I drug them - kicking and screaming - to a friends house nearby. They were adamant that riding the horses to the nearest creek, tying them to a tree, and taking a swim in the heat of the day sufficed. Oh, wait, - the inevitable memorial weekend monsoon was good enough for them as well. The monsoon even washed their clothes while they were “showering”.
These days, campouts are a lot less chaotic even when both Joni and Jake decide to go with us. Our horse trailer has a dressing room where I can keep all the camping supplies stored year round. It even has a semi comfortable air mattress to sleep on. Jake is more interested in socializing than playing in the dirt these days and doesn’t mind the shower anymore. Everybody can saddle their own horse, fix their own plate, clean up their own mess, and even lend a hand when it comes time to cook.
Larry and I tend to avoid the three-day holidays for campouts though. Equestrian friendly campgrounds are full months in advance these days. The thrill of “primitive” camping is long gone. That went out the window the day I shut the trailer door and turned that beautiful air conditioner on for an afternoon siesta when it was too hot to ride. Yes, I’m a wuss.
That doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy the break from the workweek when a holiday grants us an extra day off work. My honey do list is pretty extensive this year. We have lots of little projects left around the house to fill that extra day nicely. Add to the list, bonding with the new addition to our household. Larry and I adopted a miniature Australian Shepherd dog this week. She is adapting pretty quickly – the cats, not so much.
I’m pretty sure I witnessed Zoey do an eye roll that rivaled anything Joni or Jake could master in their day. She quickly found a hiding spot far, far away from anything canine. Chloe on the other hand worries me just a little. The evil gaze she threw poor Shylo last night as I was petting her came straight from a psycho cat horror movie. I’m hoping the long weekend with Larry and I supervising their interactions will help them all adjust.
As we use the extra time at home for projects and family, we will also stop and take to heart the real reason for the holiday weekend. Memorial Day is not the “official” start to summer or just a break from the grind of a typical work week as so many retailers want everyone to believe.
Memorial Day is a day set aside to remember and be thankful for all the brave men and women who have fought and paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms. Freedoms to own a home of our choosing and design, spend time with family and friends, attend the church of our choice, speak freely, and own firearms for both recreation and protection. It saddens me when people forget the sacrifice it takes by the men and women of the armed forces to protect all those liberties.
In a perfect world, our government wouldn’t have to set aside one day a year to remember our lost heroes. A perfect world would mean there would be world wild harmony and no need for wars, conflicts, peacekeeping missions, or deployments.  Families would never be in fear of the phone ringing while their loved one is serving overseas. No family would ever feel the deep-seated pain of grief at the loss of someone they love due to conflict and war. The world would not harbor evil with its sights set on harming those who enjoy freedom everyday.
But a perfect world we do not live in so we will continue to honor those heroes every chance we get. The Salisbury Steak Festival this year revolves around “Veteran’s – Our Heroes”. What a wonderful opportunity to once again say thank you to the men and women of the armed forces who have selfishly served our country and the younger generation filling the voids as they retire. Our three day weekends would not be filled with bbq’s, trail rides, family, and honey do lists if it were not for the brave men and women who courageously gave their lives and those who continue to bravely fight today. Thank you today, tomorrow, next week and next year!

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