“When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d . . .” must be one of the most beautiful lines in all American poetry. It is, of course, Walt Whitman’s lengthy storm of grief at the losses of the Civil War. Seems just right that lilacs are almost always blooming for Memorial Day.

But poppies, not lilacs, were long the badge flower of Memorial Day. Wearing poppies was inspired by another famous poem, “In Flanders Fields.”

For most of us, though, the Memorial Day flower is the homely geranium.

And while tributes to those fallen in combat abide and geraniums are placed at the graves of veterans and departed family members, Memorial Day has come to mean the beginning of summer.

Traffic on the turnpike and a platoon of state police cars last Friday and Saturday make that point. As does Dan Warner’s voice mail greeting: “Yep, mowing has begun, if you want jobs done, I am The One… “

Mowing season has begun and Dan “the One” Warner made his first visit of the year last Friday in time for the holiday.

For Memorial Day weekend anyway, everything looked near perfect: lawn mown, lilacs blooming, trillium lingering down by the road. The radishes are up, and so are the peas and lettuce.

Children and grandchildren visited us, and – get this – asked if we’d let them take some rocks out of our garden for theirs.

Picking flowers

It’s flower time and it seems as if there are more purveyors of pots and flats every year. Take your pick.

Burt deFrees favors Korhonen’s over on Route 232 because they carry spruce and he’s very fond of spruce. Closer to the valley, Laurie’s has a good variety in a new-looking greenhouse. Briar Patch doesn’t carry perennials but does a brisk business in annuals.

Lloyd’s is back again this year at the information booth parking lot on Thursdays and seven days a week on Route 2 in East Rumford. So is South Rumford’s No View Nursery.

Rave reviews, too, for the Frye Farm’s flowers and vegetables, a good joy-riding destination. So is McLaughlin Foundation in South Paris and Paris Farmers Union.

Time to put up the electric fence to fend off rabbits and deer. But it won’t stop the woodchucks. There’s at least one woodchuck living under the shed. Every afternoon around 3:30 the woodchuck starts moving. Drives the dog crazy. Dog drives us crazy.

When the lettuce gets so far as to need thinning, the woodchuck will leave off the pine bark and dandelions and get going on the delicacies in our garden.

Calling Barbara Murphy down at the County Extension Office is always good fun and instructive. Woodchucks? Well, you can get a have-a-heart trap or you can get someone to shoot them. An informal survey of knowing gardeners went way out front for shooting.

“Are you kidding?” a neighbor remarked. “You can hear them almost every morning – Ray or George or Dave or Greg – shooting woodchucks.”

Hmm. More later.

Linda Farr Macgregor lives with her husband, Jim, in Rumford. She is a freelance writer. Contact her: [email protected]


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