Another Day in the Country
© Another Day in the Country
Every Memorial Day weekend, my cousins converge on Ramona — especially those used-to-be kids who grew up here in town.
Keith comes from Colorado, Glenn and Lois from Missouri, Joe and Janet, Georgia and Ed, from Lawrence, Steve and Maureen from Bunker Hill, Gary and Carol from Herington, and Mac came from Derby.
I love this time of year! We have lavish lunches, tell stories of people we’ve known and days gone by, line up for a picture, count our blessings, and wave goodbye — thankful that most of us are still here.
We’re a vintage group, these gatherers; all of the cousins present this year were in our 70s and 80s!
As we’ve often done in the past, Keith and I went out taking pictures. We’re both photography buffs. We’ve taken hundreds of pictures of Kansas landscapes, some places more than others.
The majesty of a wheat field is a shot we’ve taken over and over.
“How many shots do you need of a green or gold ocean of grain?” I ask myself.
This time we were doing our photo shoot in the rain, so we photographed streams bursting their banks, reflecting the sky, and also raindrops on blades of grass, or trembling transparent, on leaves, like diamonds, when the sun broke through the clouds.
After the weekend was over, Ramona seemed suddenly bereft. I wandered around the house, hungry for something, opening and closing the refrigerator door.
But it wasn’t food I was after. I was missing the company, the laughter, we’d all shared.
In the week before the cousins came through town, we were getting ready.
Company was coming!
While I was gathering food and planning the menu, Jess was hunting for hot rollers of all things.
Her set of old curlers had quit heating. How was she to look her best when family arrived, without a proper hair-curling device?
She’d already begun looking online for hot rollers and had ordered a set only to find out upon their arrival that they were all wrong. It was like the Goldilocks story.
The curlers were either too small or too big. The rollers were covered in some soft, velvety material, and wouldn’t stay in her hair. She sent them back.
In the big city of Salina, she began canvassing stores for hot rollers so she could look at them and see whether they were just right. But there were none to be had!
“There are no hot rollers anywhere,” Jess lamented. “How do women do their hair?”
“They use curling irons?” I suggested.
But, she didn’t like the idea of learning to use a curling iron, and “furthermore, the curl doesn’t last as long,” she sputtered.
All the way home that day, she scrolled through her phone, hunting for the right kind of hot rollers while I drove. Suddenly she shouted,
“Here’s what I’m looking for.”
There was a sharp intake of breath,
“What? They call these vintage! Vintage rollers and they want $100 for them! You’ve got to be kidding.”
She put her phone back in her purse.
Now was probably not a good time for an older sister (who must indeed be classified as vintage) to be chuckling, but I couldn’t help it.
“Remember when Mom was so distraught at not being able to find those double-sided boom box tape recorders anymore?” I said.
We remembered. We have indeed managed to become vintage, along with the old-style conveniences we enjoyed.
As the cousins sat in the living room telling stories, Jess told the story of hunting for hot rollers when it seems that flat irons and hair straighteners are more in vogue and readily available.
“I’m not paying a hundred dollars for a set of hot rollers,” Jess said.
“I’ve got a set,” cousin Carol said.
“My girls are always asking me why I keep them around because I don’t use them anymore. I know right where they are! When I go let the dogs out, I’ll bring them back. You can have them!”
Every year when we celebrate Memorial Day, we remember how things once were.
The very act of remembering means those times, those days, those people are no more. With every passing year, the familiar faces and familiar places change; the people and the convenient items we depended upon are either gone or out of style. Vintage!
The custom of putting flowers on graves has become vintage in many places.
But not around here! Kansas country seems to be one of the hold outs for remembering.
For us, belonging to a community, to a family, doesn’t ever go out of style.
We give flowers to the past and cherry pie with ice cream to the future. We give hugs, smiles, a listening ear, and even vintage hot rollers, on another day in the country.