The following was written on the morning of May 28, 2007.
Cool Morning. Fog. At Whipple Dam State Park, birdsong and the sound of water pouring over the spillway fills the air. Aside from an old man chasing geese off the beach on the other side of the lake I have the place to myself.
The road to the park winds over Tussey Mountain, through the woods and along Standing Stone Creek. The first hint of sunlight pushes through the fog causing some of the trees to glow.
I've been reading "A Sense of the World" by Jason Roberts. It's the story of James Holman, British Royal Navy officer, Knight of Windsor, and adventurer. What makes his story unique is that he undertook a circumnavigation of the world by land and sea in the early 1800's after becoming blind and fighting debilitating pain. Whenever I find myself concerned with the minor extremes I face while riding I will recall Holman's winter trip across Siberia in a horse drawn sledge.
A breakfast of cheese and Melba toast, nuts, raisins, and a fresh orange seems a perfect counter to the familiar hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs I usually eat on a ride. A bullfrog croaks agreement just a few yards away. A family of geese visit hoping for a handout. I politely decline not wanting to reinforce bad behavior --- theirs or mine.
The man chasing geese arrives on my side of the lake to continue his geese chasing and other activities to ready the park for the day. We talk for a while and he tells me he has recently retired from park service at age 86. Looking at him I would have guessed 75 tops. His secret is a daily glass of vinegar.
The conversation turns briefly to Memorial Day and he tells me his son was a Marine and died in 1968. We both are quiet for a while.
I feel grateful. Not just to have the opportunity to sit here but for the life and opportunity I have. On Memorial Day I need to remember is comes with a cost.
End of Entry.
A cost. That's where I stopped writing. I kept thinking about the cost for the rest of the week.
Later that day I walked through the Pennsylvania Military Museum grounds and looked at the monuments signifying places like Antietam, Gettysburg, Meuse-Argonne, Normandy, and Ardennes-Alsace. Names carved in granite, row after row, memories of lives lost far from home, reminders of the solemn cost of my own gratitude.
I'm not sure what I think of the celebrations wrapped around Memorial Day. In town we have carnivals, car shows, craft festivals, music and food. Perhaps a fitting memorial is the existence of celebrations.
Another Memorial Day has passed but the reminders linger.