Saturday, July 9, 2011


It's July and this is my happy time. Warm weather is very agreeable to me. Everything is so open and free at this time of year (except our State of Minnesota, shut down for the ninth consecutive day amid a quagmire of politics and pettiness. But that's another story and not a tale to be told for this entry.)

It was a wonderful 4th of July. We were up north with family. Horseshoes, bocce and cribbage were played. The different arenas of action used fluid rules. Sufficient players were found by rounding up anyone willing at the moment to pitch a shoe or aim a ball.

There was time at the river for floating and swimming. We whiled away lazy afternoons in the yard. Among other things we watched was the seemingly last nesting turtle of the season. She lay her eggs surprisingly close to the house.

The July 4th noon spread was delicious. There's always something for everyone. As with every year there's some new dish or salad to comment on and inquire how it's made.

Desserts were a smaller category than previously. This was compensated for by fruits and fresh-picked berries. My sister-in-law's popular banana cake (the secret is banana in the frosting) became the birthday cake as we sang the birthday song to my niece. I hope her ears have repaired themselves following our valiant attempt at choral presentation.

The two black Labs - one old with its only ambition to snooze in the shade, the other young and alert with energy - were the faithful canines rounding out our numbers. At one point both dogs were at rest on either side of the porch steps. The scene said something about our time together. All found comfortable spots near one another to reside and relax.

A cow went over the dam and the recovery efforts brought out various official local units. A strategy was reviewed for removing the dead cow from the river. We didn't stay to watch the full recovery operation but did take in the scene of red fire truck and other equipped vehicles.

It looked like either the start or finish of a parade or emergency backup for a very scary accident before being given an explanation of what what was going on. A suiting-up scuba diver, part of the recovery squad, assessed the situation from the perspective of the job he was called to do. It might be just another day's work for him. Nevertheless, a cow in the river must be a somewhat unusual situation.

Thankfully (if not for the cow) it all turned out to be just another page in the story of the country summer.

Talking with a neighbor the next day she wryly referred to it as "hoopla at the dam." In reality there wasn't much hoopla to it. It was at best subdued drama. The early forenoon hour had few onlookers about. But the stench of the cow as it was grappled to the surface was forceful reminder of the potential treachery of water.

The neighbor, a year-round resident, was unaware of any farm immediately upstream reporting a cow missing. The hapless creature was likely in the water for some time. Perhaps it took a misstep in pastureland near the river, lost its footing and fell in. Almost by any theory it was a victim of heavy seasonal rains and rapid river currents.

Church on the July 4th weekend was full. The pastor talked about vacationers taking time to attend services when vacationing away from all the other set things in our lives. He talked of the need for Sunday rest - ditto the need for holiday rest.

We concluded with America the Beautiful. My gaze moved to outside views of pines and farmland as voices raised in song. The stirring stanzas fluttered our hearts as surely as the flag causes us to stand and salute it with pride. The song's "spacious skies" and "amber waves of grain," powerful words of natural grandeur, create as real a picture of America as anything.

My brother and I commented that the basswood must be a little late this year. The blossoming we come to expect at the start of July hadn't yet happened. Back home here the basswood trees are in bloom. The heady aroma comes in the opened windows. It's the smell of summer to me.

Ro Giencke - July 9, 2011

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