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July 16, 2005
Oh, I will miss you, I said to each of the flower beds, have fun while I'm gone. The black-eyed susans will surely have popped by the time we return, and the sunflowers. The red rose will have rebloomed, and the blood-red crocosmia, newly blooming this year after several years of waiting, may have some friends in bloom as well. The first tomatoes will be ripe, assuming enough sun this week. And a whole new world of basil will beg its harvested.

And the weeds will have had a field day. I don't know why cats don't weed, but they don't. There's always at least a day's weeding after a week away.

I washed and filled each hummingbird feeder, newly clustered around the trumpet vine where the hummingbirds now visit regularly. Colored the water red this time, so that the glass globes look like shiny ripe fruit.
Then I made a final circuit to look at everything, as if bidding farewell to a lover. I hated to tear myself away. I always hate it.

Once on the road, though, it's always a new chapter. This was a car trip, just Q and me, through beautiful country, down into lush Virginia and up into the mountains. We drove in and out of cloudbursts. We ate an entire gorgeous dark chocolate bar with real espresso in it. We drove past Civil War battlefields and imagined the houses we passed as they were then, past sad little graveyards filled with dead soldiers and those who loved them. There were 23,000 casualties in one day's fighting at Antietam. There was no graveyard large enough for all the dead. They were interred in shallow troughs near where they fell, Confederate separate from Union, few identified. Later on, the Union soldiers were interred in a section of the battlefield purchased and set aside for that purpose. Separate even in death, the last of the Confederate fallen did not receive a proper burial until 1877.

Life and death both come close to me when I am away from home. I notice babies more, small children, but also graveyards, old houses telling silent tales about the lives they once held. A sweet melancholy creeps over me, a wistful tenderness toward our fragile race and all its ephemeral arrangements, all our attempts to be remembered. Their lives were short, as mine will be. Fleeting. They longed to stay but had to go. There was only one of each of them.

No wonder my flowers tug at my heart -- it's just the same with them. They are like us. Their brief lives will be over when next I see them, and there is only one of each of them.
Copyright © 2022 Barbara Crafton
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