Kitchen Garden Living in Society Social Commentary Writing

On a Holiday Weekend

Lake Macbride Trail May 24, 2019

A brilliant, partly-cloudy sky hung over the landscape as I made my way east on Interstate 80.

Rain broke long enough to allow a trip to Davenport to visit Mom and a friend I met in grade school.

Mother insisted on making coffee and it was the best I’ve had in a while. It took her longer than it would have me, but I stood with her and helped as best I could. At age 89 she wanted to do it so who was I to object?

She’s joined the cohort of octogenarians who dread the thought of going into a nursing home when staying at home no longer works. This dread is almost universal among Americans and with good reason. Almost everyone I know who had experiences with a relative checking into a nursing home has a horror story or two about neglect and mistreatment.

I believe the problem with nursing homes is, like with other modern social phenomena, mostly because of the decline in K-12 education, the rise in private and home schooling, and the dominance of FOX News and right-wing radio among people who continue to be radio listeners or view television broadcasts and cable. People have been dumbed down and will swallow almost anything they hear repeated often enough.

Nursing homes don’t have to be as bad as they are, but education and social learning haven’t prepared us as well as they could for getting help with aging relatives. Most people can’t afford an in-home nurse when someone requires 24/7 attention. A nursing home has become the best opportunity to enable a loved one to live their final time on Earth with dignity. Indignities regularly imposed on residents become exceptionally objectionable because of this.

I met my friend for lunch at an Italian-style restaurant. Italian restaurants usually have fresh salad offerings and this one was no exception. They offered some “Chicago-style” dishes which apparently are gaining popularity in my home town. Like with Mother, my friend and I had an engaging visit.

I got sleepy and stopped at the rest area halfway home to walk around. A great thing about Iowa rest areas is they have clean rest rooms and drinking fountains with free, chilled, filtered water. Refreshed, I made it home okay, passing presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard’s advertising billboard outside Iowa City. One may try to get away from it, but politics never takes a holiday.

At home, I mowed the lawn as best I could, breaking a sweat. The ambient temperature was moderate and the sky remained bright. As I mowed around the garden, the grove of fruit trees, and lilacs, I was reminded of how much yard work remains to be done to get the property in suitable shape. My solace can be found in the Meriam Bellina song,

One day at a time sweet Jesus
That’s all I’m asking from you
Just give me the strength
To do everyday what I have to do.

Yesterday’s gone sweet Jesus
And tomorrow may never be mine
Lord help me today, show me the way
One day at a time.

I need to make another pass to pick up the grass clippings for the garden.

The garden patch has standing water in divots dug last week. When I mowed near the ditch the sound of running water informed me it hadn’t dried out and might not this year. Gardeners on social media are getting their vegetables planted, and this is the latest start they can remember. The wet spring has been problematic, although all is not lost… yet.

Soon corn farmers will have to turn to beans if the ground doesn’t dry out enough for planting. With China no longer wanting corn and soybeans because of U.S. tariffs, the prospect of plummeting soybean prices is real, and farmers will take it on the chin… again.

All in all Saturday was a positive day in a turbulent world. Hopefully I’ll get some garden time in when I return from the farm this afternoon.