• Last modified 431 days ago (July 16, 2020)


Another Day in the Country

Ramona is popping!

© Another Day in the Country

For the first time in twenty-some years, there was no official Fourth of July celebration in Ramona.

However, that didn’t keep the town from “Snap,” “Crackle,” and “Popping!”

It started several days before the Fourth.


Suddenly a report would go off, and you couldn’t help being startled since you didn’t expect it.

Instinctively, one wants to know, where did that come from? Is it friend or foe — even though I’ve never lived in a war zone or been bombed or shot at by anyone.

“Splickity-splat-pop-pop-pop,” goes another one, and my sister sighs.

“I hate all that,” she says.

And so we hunkered down, put the cats inside, prepared ourselves for the onslaught of “rat-a-tat-tats” and “pop, BOOM, whish,” until the weekend was over.

We’d actually planned an event over the holiday weekend with two of our “also shelter in place” friends from Lindsborg. We were going to have a progressive garden party starting at Phyl’s house for a beverage (no beer) and beer nuts (which I’d never eaten), and a viewing and tour of her garden.

Her huge flower pots were exquisite, with sweet potato vines and coleus topped with hurricane lanterns she bought at Dollar General and then painted, turning them into objects of art! Phyl’s garden is a reflection of her artistic soul — organized, linear, coordinated, clean, abstract art.

Next we went to M’s house. She’s a landscape artist, having done it professionally, and her yard invites you into her space with an elegance of paths and fountains, shady glens, and flower gardens complete with picturesque swallowtail butterflies having drinks and salad right along with us in the middle of abundant Echinacea blooms.

From there we cross country — “Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain” — toward Ramona where we came to my house. My garden is an adventure. It’s me working with Mother Nature to see what will grow and what comes up just naturally year after year. We cooperate. It’s rather loosely bordered, and there are cabbages amongst the flowers, shaded by pampas grass.

The fish pond, which lost all its fish to some toxic accident last year, has become the frog pond, overshadowed by lotus with huge elephant-ear leaves and underpinned by water lilies that still offer exquisite delicate blooms. The fountain, which replaced a man-made stream, offers an underpinning of tranquility.

“There are unexpected nooks in your garden, surprises, if you linger,” my sister offers as a soliloquy.

My garden experience also offered the main course: ratatouille crepes.

And then we trailed over to Jess’s house.

“Walk on the red/white/blue polka dot path that I prepared for you,” she called as she ran ahead to fix drinks and dessert.

Jessica’s garden is playful. Gardening is something new for her. It began last year when she decided to get rid of her front lawn and started making displays with pots and things — there are wash tubs and wheel barrows. She installed old headboards at the corners of her lawn, which we euphemistically call “the back forty” because it’s a lot to mow!

She made what she calls “crop circles” in the huge expanse of grass — lawn art, which for one thing makes mowing a lot more interesting. This year she made two more of her crop circles and then decided to decorate them with painted designs.

“When you are working in the yard, it’s just so much fun,” Jess enthuses, “and while I’m puttering around, I get more ideas of what I could do. It just inspires creativity!”

We sat under the spreading, magnificent, old elm tree at the corner of her yard and ate berry cake with ice cream and more berries piled on top. It was grand and COVID safe in the fresh air.

As sundown came I wasn’t exactly looking forward to the random popping noises in town, but then I heard fireworks going off somewhere on the southwest edge of Ramona and I decided to follow it to its source.

It was dark. I was in my robe, walking the main drag and feeling a little silly, and then I found the epicenter in Jennifer’s back yard. I sat down on a bench in downtown Ramona and watched. It was beautiful, maybe even better than organized stuff.

They had music playing.

I knew the words and sang along, harmonizing, “I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses,” What a wonderful finale for our garden party day!

This song was Marge Stroda’s favorite hymn, and unbeknownst to me, Marge had just breathed her last and this fireworks display and music was a tribute to her, the red-haired lady who loved flowers and gardening, wearing red lipstick, and wearing high heels in her younger days.

“This was her send off! The fireworks! We did it in style!” said her granddaughter, Jennifer, on another day in the country.

Last modified July 16, 2020