in our single hard bed room, I drink a cheap Georgian beer and gaze out the window at the Soviet era apartment block through the waning rain and gathering gloom. It is a tableau of a former, not yet liberated, life under Communism: clotheslines, mops, jugs of home-made wine, rust-bleeding concrete balconies; a babushka beats on something like wool, shreds it and hangs it to dry; a woman finishes hanging clothes, they sag the line in the soggy air; another babushka drinks wine and eats bread and stares into the mountains drifting with shards of stringy charcoal cloud; an old man limps the short length of his balcony repeatedly, as if exercising, indomitable spirit;
The meandering streams were punctuated by beaver dams that slowed the water and created meadows for large deer and bear, and habitat for those brookies, always hungry for a tiny dry fly.
Ignore the politics of war this one day. Here is my Memorial Day tribute to veterans: like this prickly pear cactus, they are tough and beautiful.
When I was growing up in rural West Virginia, what we now call Memorial Day was Decoration Day. A few days before, the family went to the community graveyard (no fancy names then) with mowing scythes, rakes and grass clippers. We’d tidy up all the family grave sites, clean the moss from the stones, and then work on any abandoned graves, try and remember who they were.