The holiday weekend brought a glut of cars to the highways, most of them around here were headed north to open up summer cottages on one of Michigan’s 11,000 inland lakes or going to cabins out in the boondocks where off-road recreational vehicles reign supreme. Over 3,000 other weekend warriors on the roads were pulling campers or were loaded up with camping gear headed to one of the state campgrounds. The lucky ones had reservations for the coveted campsites right on the beach. There is nothing better than waking up to the sight and sounds of water lapping the sand and seagulls looking for breakfast. Scoring a campsite away from the beach under the White Pines comes in a close second. Michiganders love Memorial Day weekends and it might seem like the original meaning of the holiday gets lost in mini vacations but it hasn’t. The stream of cars going in and out of the cemeteries the week before the holiday is as much of a tradition as having hot dogs and hamburgers on an outdoor grill. The military memorial services still go on. The Scout troops still clean up the veteran’s parks. The cemeteries are bright with flowers and flags and fresh cut grass and we remember... Boy, do we remember with feature stories in the media, war movie marathons on TV, Facebook posts and personal blogs.
This time of the year I'm wistful remembering trips up north. I cross over the highway and see the bumper to bumper traffic below and wish I was down there on my way to or from having fun, but my days of camping are long gone. Instead, I joined the homebody Michiganders who flood places like Lowe's and garden centers for do-it-yourself project supplies. The homebodies hate having sand up their bathing suits, fighting traffic and sharing showers with spiders in rustic campgrounds where a midnight walk with a flashlight to the public bathroom will not be enough to scare off the raccoons looking for careless campers who forgot to lock up their food.
I came back from my trip to Lowe's armed with ammunition for the war I’ve planned against mice. I have two coming to my bird feeder---at least I think I’m seeing two different size mice---but I’ve never seen them together. I want them dead because for the past 3-4 winters I’ve had signs of mice in my basement. I bait them down there, they eat the d-Con and I rarely see them dead. But I can’t bait them outside because of the birds and rabbits. First I tried a trap that the mice are supposed to go inside and not be able to escape but a clever mouse sprung it and moved it two feet off the path to the feeder. Next I dug a plastic paint pail into the ground below the feeder and I put a few sunflower seeds in the bottom. The birds should be able to get out if they go after the seed, but I’m told mice will not be able to climb up the slippery sides. Three days and no mice in the pail. One side of me is relieved. I don’t want them to suffer for days trying to scale the white wall before giving themselves a heart attack and I don’t think I could drop a rock on a mouse trapped in the bottom of a pail. I do own a BB gun but I’d probably shoot into the pail and have the BB bound back and put my eye out instead of killing the mouse. Can mice swim? Could I drown them?
It breaks my heart but after the rest of my birdseed is gone I’m no longer going to feed the birds except for those that eat jelly and the sugar water. I found a little stash of seeds in the basement and that was the last straw. No wonder condo communities have rules about feeding birds. I will miss seeing my cardinals and woodpeckers. Maybe I’ll get one of those videos they make for cats to watch of birds doing bird things inside the TV set.
My husband worked at a funeral home during high school and the experience indoctrinated him for life to the importance of being there to support the living and remember the dead. Decorating graves for Memorial Day was a big deal for him. I remember it all. Oh yes, the holiday get-aways but making sure the family graves were well tended before we went. I have not been to the cemetery yet to tend to Don’s stone but I’ll go soon. Half of it will be covered over with sand and I’ll carefully clean the gray granite and glue another Snoopy trinket on the corner that by fall will be in the pocket of some random kid...unless this year I put the Snoopy on the bait platform of a mouse trap that can snap down on little fingers that try to steal it. I suppose there’s a rule against that. Like condos, the cemeteries around here have rules for everything. ©