Rainy Memorial Day Picnic

Joan and Marcella at Gold Basin on a sunny day last year

Here in our corner of Northwest Washington, it was a memorable Memorial Day weekend for a lot of people. It started when a freakish accident sent part of Mt. Vernon’s I-5 bridge tumbling into the Skagit River. Three people rode their vehicles with it into the swift, frigid current, but were rescued without serious injury. Hundreds watched astounded from the river banks while the rest of us gaped at our TV sets.

We heard that two of the people in the river had been on their way to Verlot for a camping holiday. Many people suddenly changed their plans for the weekend rather than face a long, complicated, jammed-up detour around the collapse.

In our little town further south, the only threats to my holiday hopes were that hubby and partner-in-fun Hank was off on a solo trip. And the skies threatened rain. Oh, well. I could take flowers to the Granite Falls cemetery, rain or shine.

Long-time friend Marcella, who’s living at Verlot where we both grew up, is turning 84. I’d called to suggest an impromptu picnic celebration to follow my cemetery visit. Marcella’s still game for anything and quickly agreed.

I assembled flower bouquets from our garden to decorate the graves, and another bouquet to give with a thank-you card to veteran Amelia, who is Marcella’s granddaughter. Amelia is a beautiful young woman whose life has been on hold since she returned from the war suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. Marcella helped raise her and still looks after her. I packed our lunch and put in a plastic tablecloth and plastic to sit on, just in case.

By the time I reached Granite Falls, drizzle kept the wipers busy. Drizzle continued on the drive up into the mountains. No problem…we could eat our lunch in the house. But as I bumped up their long driveway, I saw Marcella and Amelia waiting on the porch. They hurried to the truck, ready to picnic. Maybe we could find a shelter in one of the parks further up the road.

We circled thru Gold Basin park. My friend pointed out where a row of houses once stood in the early 1900s. Her mother had grown up there because her grandfather worked in a nearby lumber mill. She remembered walking there as a child and her mom pointing out the site of her old home. Marcella discovered an ancient caulked logging boot half buried in the moss and wanted to take it home to plant flowers in. Her mom said, “Leave it there. Your grandfather wore that boot.”

The trees dripped. Most camping spaces were empty. Anyone brave enough to go camping in the rain had already headed home. We chose a peaceful spot walled in by evergreens and vine maples, spread an oilcloth on a wet picnic table and pieces of plastic on the benches, and sat down to enjoy egg salad sandwiches, potato chips, and fruit. We had such a good time visiting we didn’t notice the paper bag holding store-bought cookies turning soggy. Fortunately, it had a waterproof lining, so we finished up with still-crispy cookies and coffee. I looked at the three of us sitting there, two elderly ladies and a young one, laughing and ignoring raindrops plopping on our heads, and thought, “One is never too old to try something new!”

Memorial Day…a time to make new memories, as well as to honor old ones.

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