Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Memorial Day weekend: a rainy reflection

By Elaine Shein

The Memorial Day weekend weather was a conversational topic for many who were disappointed with the May showers for at least the first couple of days.

Television stations showed disappointed campers in the mountains, in the Cascade as well as Sierra Nevada ranges, waking up to fresh snow on their tents and shivering around their barbecues for heat.

For the farmers who worked the weekend to sell their produce at farmers’ markets, business was rather slow.

A steady rain fell on the farmers’ market in Corvallis, Ore. What should have been a bustling Saturday was more of a bust: few people visited the booths, and those hardy shoppers usually hurried back to their vehicles with the fresh fruit and vegetables of the season.

Several of those who work the farmers’ market tucked their tables in under their tarps and tents as much as possible to avoid the steady rain.

The musicians who often compete with each other were noticeably absent, probably worried about warping their guitars and rusting their other musical instruments.

Perhaps the busiest places in Corvallis were the coffee shops — especially the ones nearest the farmers’ market.

In Salem, it was also noticeably quiet, and some vendors at the Saturday Market began to pack up early when it appeared the weather — and customers — would not be favorable that day. Some farmers thanked patrons for just showing up, even if they weren’t in the mood to make a purchase.

Some of the more traditional tourist areas were also slow this weekend. McMinnville’s historic district was relatively empty, but then again a lot of people are probably still recovering from the UFO Festival that was there the weekend before. Or they were visiting some of the wonderful wineries in the valley that offered taste tests.

For those who may have been driving the countryside and didn’t see UFOs, they may have seen another strange sight. Taking back roads from Basket Slough (a wildlife refuge west of Salem) towards Perrydale, there was a group of nine wild turkeys close to the road. Some were in the pasture, others perched on a fence to gaze at a nearby cattle herd. They didn’t seem to mind the rain.

On the coast, restaurant and store owners complained about how slow business was because of the weather. A woman working the flea market at Yachats, just off Highway 101, said the weather had been just terrible on Saturday and Sunday, and she readily welcomed Monday’s sunny day. “We don’t even want to talk about the rest of the weekend,” she said. “Let’s pretend it never existed. The rest of the week is supposed to be nice.”

Campgrounds and hotels were relatively empty and highway traffic light, a big surprise for this time of year. The casinos remained busy, as usual.

However, Monday’s sunshine slowly began to attract more people to the beach and restaurants, and popular places like the Chowder Bowl restaurant at the historic Nye Beach of Newport had long line-ups while staff hurried from table to table.

By the end of the day it seemed like everybody — and their dog — was out to enjoy some of the sunshine.

And to enjoy a day of freedom that so many others, from so many generations, have sacrificed for us to enjoy life peacefully now here in the U.S.

Listening to the solemn words of our leaders, watching jet fighters overhead or wreath-laying ceremonies in our local towns, seeing documentaries on television, or even listening to our relatives, friends and neighbors who have served in wars of the past — while we continue to mourn and pray for those who continue to fight in war zones overseas — all act as reminders that Memorial Day isn’t just another vacation day.

If rainy weather and dampened vacation plans are the biggest challenges we have for the moment, we should be grateful.

There are so many who have so much less in the world.

The sun will shine at future farmers’ markets. The tourists will flood back to their favorite places in upcoming weeks. Businesses will attract their usual and new clientele once again.

But there are so many families who will not be seeing their spouse, parent, or child again because of the sacrifices they have made fighting in wars.

Perhaps we should have had more conversations about that than the weather on the long weekend.

No comments:

Ag in the West social media watch

Capital Press videos on YouTube

Our most popular videos