I was in Wickford the other night, so I visited the giant lotus pond on Rte. 1 again. We found the lotus three years ago after Mallory and Seth’s wedding, and I’ve visited the past three summers. It seems other-worldly to me every time I go, and it’s something I love to do. The leaves are large platters and the lotus are like porcelain.
The man in the photo is my father-in-law, Bill Simpson, and he is sitting in an Army-issued tent during the Korean War in the early 1950s. He will soon marry the woman he left behind in the States, whose photo is tacked to the wall behind him. They will be married for more than 40 years, have four children, move from Philadelphia to New Jersey, spoil their grandchildren — and, too soon, he will leave her behind again.
We celebrated the 80th birthday of the woman in the photo, Joan Hopkins Simpson, at a large party of family and friends in Delaware in July. Joan planned the party herself to make sure it was just what she wanted. She has always tried to find the best in everyone and every situation — and I hope she knows she is an inspiration to many and a great storyteller.
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The stones, the blinding light of late-afternoon sun in summer, deep shade, a Sunday, surely a Sunday.
The dresses, the pin-curled hair, pigtails, the distant sound of bird song, a voice calling for someone, footsteps on gravel.
Three more brothers in the years to come. But, on this day, four sisters and a gravestone for one son.
The loss, still raw. The house, still quiet.
On another summer day faraway, their mother will tell one daughter that the boy would peek over her crib to make her laugh. She will say it was his favorite thing to do.
It will be the first thing she will ever say to the daughter about her brother.
It will be the last thing, too.
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This photo was taken by my Dad in the Badlands of South Dakota in the late 1960s. I was standing near the edge of the platform, looking down into the abyss, and he was above us. We went camping with our cousins who lived in South Dakota on this trip. I remember that it was pretty cold, and we were freezing in the tent. I wish I could remember more about it, but I’m sure it was fun. I’m sure it wasn’t as much fun for my mother, who still had to cook for six kids and a husband on a little camp stove.
I don’t have many photos that work for this week’s photo challenge. It will be interesting to see what others have selected.
This link will take you to a photo essay done by the New York Times a few years ago that features the voices of Marcus residents explaining this little town phenomenon that takes place every August in northwestern Iowa.
I’m not sure if it fits the category of “culture,” but it does describe the life I grew up knowing, and I do believe it is a landscape that is slowly — and sadly — disappearing. Below, are my own images from past fairs. I probably won’t make it back this summer, but not because I don’t want to be there.
Thank you to the volunteers who work so hard to make it happen every year.
If you don’t look up — and down — in Charleston, you will miss the most interesting bits of iron scroll work. I spent an hour in the art museum and three hours walking down lanes and alleys. I also loved the windows and window boxes. I’ll save the windows for another photo challenge.
I was too young to remember this day, but here are some sensory images of being three years old at my grandmother’s house in the country:
The pull and pinch of the clips in my braids.
The metallic taste of Kool-aid in the bright, tin cups.
The smell of Ambush and Aqua Velva.
Peeling off the skins of burnt hot dogs.
The heat of the sun, the sound of the wind.
The clematis that climbed the shed.
The swing with the longest rope in the world.
Looking at the photo’s date, I realize that my mother was just 30 years old, and has given birth to six children, with two more to come.
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