Sunday, May 27, 2012

Happy Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day seems like an oxymoron meaning that perhaps, such a commemorative day is not a call for joyous celebration. According Memorial Day History site, the day has been set aside for this reason, "Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service." Also according to the site, the actual origins of the day are somewhat cloudy. Furthermore, in addition to honoring those who have died in service to our nation, here in the United States, we honor living veterans and loved ones who have died.

My father, Byron W. Thompson, who died in the early nineties, was not a veteran but was supportive of the war effort by raising three daughters and by making vehicles for International Harvester during World War II. He also had two brothers, who served in the military during the war. One brother, Max, regretfully died in Europe as a bombardier. The other brother, Paul, served in the Pacific, and still lives today.  

My father's favorite flower was the iris; hence, irises remind me of him. Since irises frequently are in bloom in our location in late May, to me irises are also reminiscent of Memorial Day. These unusual irises in the picture were planted by some former homeowners. Each of the three springs since moving to our new home, I have delighted in these flowers as a reminder of my dad. This year, probably to due the warm winter and early spring season, the blooms have been quite prolific.

On this Memorial Day, I wish to thank our veterans both living and those that died in our conflicts. Moreover, I remember my parents, who were ever respectful of the military.  I wish not only to honor but to celebrate those lives.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Tree of Hope

This ancient oak tree is on our property. Even though parts of the tree are no longer living, the tree continues to produce leaves every spring. When we moved in our home three summers ago, I did not notice this specific tree until later in autumn. Later still, my husband and I found and bought a print of a similar tree titled "Tree of Hope" by in St. Joseph, Michigan by B.J. Goetz. The print shows a similar tree with this bit of meaningful scripture.
For there is hope for a tree, when it is cut down, that it will sprout again, And its shoots will not fail. Though it roots grow old in the ground, and it stump dies in the dry soil, At the scent of water it will flourish and put forth sprigs like a plant.  Job 14:7-9
I find the actual tree fascinating, but I also appreciate the idea that life can come from death. The idea that hope is possible even under dire circumstances. Let us remember that during trying times that there is hope.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Rails-to-Trails and Litter

Loss of railroads from the nation's landscape may be disheartening, but the proliferation of pedestrian pathways replacing the historic iron horse avenues is a creative use of thousands of unused or abandoned railroad passages. A number of these walking, biking trails traverse the United States. According to the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy site, this was a natural phenomenon. After the old rails were removed, a ready-made pathway existed. Eventually, local communities started converting the dirt paths into paved trails. According the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, there are currently 20,409 miles of trails in the United States and 276 miles within the state of Indiana.

The availability of the trails provides a variety of benefits for communities and people within those communities.Our son lives very close to a trail, and we live only a few miles from a number of trails. His family uses this neighborhood trail for fun, exercise, and recreation. Although our trips down the local trails are infrequent, my husband and I occasionally enjoy pleasant walks on the scenic pathways. 

However, now and then our enjoyment is sometimes dampened by litter. There is one type of refuse that makes me angry. An stray piece of paper, a plastic bag, or even an aluminum can may be unsightly but that can be picked up and disposed of easily. Broken glass presents a different problem. The shards are not only unaesthetic but pose a danger to sojourners on the trail. The other day my husband and I picked several handfuls of broken glass on the local C&O trail. I wish those who choose to drink beer and litter on the trails would drink their beer from a can. Of course, better yet would be not to litter along the scenic pathway. One can hope that all who travel the trails will do so with fellow travelers in mind. Until that time, we plan to carry a sack for the litter.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Looking for the Magic Railroad

Inspired by our son, a fellow blogger of  Useless Clutter, I am resuming my commitment to writing posts on a relatively regular basis. Whether my resolve continues is yet to transpire. Even though I have been absent from the blogging world, I have been composing a few posts in the inner parts of my consciousness. This is one of those posts.

Our former house was located quite near a very big cemetery. The graveyard was built on the south side of a railroad track, which was removed several years ago. On one excursion to the cemetery more than twenty years ago, we discovered a fence and signs to the effect, "No trespassing, Property of the Magic Railroad. Of course, these were not the fictional tracks of Thomas the Tank Engine fame. These were Chesapeake and Ohio formerly Chicago, Cincinnati, and Louisville tracks that ran through Merrillville.

Yesterday, I looked for remnants of the old railroad tracks or a Magic Railroad sign on the edge of the cemetery property. The area and sign were overgrown with vegetation, but there was a footpath and a faded No Trespassing sign. However, no Magic Railroad sign was to be found. In reality, I was not looking for the old Chesapeake and Ohio tracks; I knew exactly the location of these tracks.

Actually, I have been searching for another part of the same railroad track pathway, the part that used to cross Randolph Street on the eastern edge of the town of Merrillville. I used to cross this part of the C&O track twice daily every day some forty years ago when I taught sixth grade at Winfield Township Elementary School. One of my co-workers ran into a train on the tracks on Randolph. Luckily, he was fine and made it to work although late.

About three years ago, we moved into a new home closer to the Randolph side of the old railroad. As we frequently traveled to  the town of Winfield by way of Randolph, I wondered where the old tracks had been. Like the track location by the cemetery, finding evidence of the old  Chesapeake and Ohio is not apparent from the road. However, if you look at an aerial view, finding the railroad's former path is indeed possible. The tracks were where the vegetation and trees create a diagonal line on the map crossing Randolph Street just above the orange symbol with the star. Until today I did not realize these tracks were the very same tracks near our older home by the cemetery. Additionally, these very same tracks ran by our first apartment, which shook our kitchen table as train passed through our town.

Thus, I guess that I have located the Magic Railroad. However, even though my search for this railroad from my memory was based originally on nostalgic curiosity, I offer this metaphorical comparison. In life, we humans tend to search for paths that may seem magical and elusive whether we are searching for spiritual truths, philosophical answers to the meaning of life, or the solution to our country's economic crisis. Perhaps, like the Magic Railroad the path is nearby but locating these truths or answers seem to be hidden from our view.