Pennsylvania Wilds: First Light on Memorial Day

The last Monday in May is Memorial Day in the U.S. It's a holiday that many people celebrate by decorating the graves of those they have loved who have passed on. It's also typically a day for cookouts, and it launches the official start of summer season.

It had been a real rip-roaringly hot couple of days, especially startling for those of us who had been sort of enjoying the long, cool, rainy spring. My husband and I spent part of the weekend installing air conditioning; now the house is good to go for the times when the summer heat gets to be too much.

But on Monday morning first thing, the weather was beautiful. It was cool and breezy and comfortable, and so my husband and I took our only hike of the weekend, up to the gamelands called the Scotia Pine Barrens (SGL 176).

We found some very nice stands of pink lady's slipper orchids, and a pretty cool turtle. And everything was green and blooming and lovely. Some of the first light was coming through the trees when I took this shot of reflections on one of the beaver ponds.

If you look closely, you can spot a blue and red hammock in the middle of things. It does look like a beautiful place to camp out; but no, you're not actually supposed to camp in the gamelands. You can see why it would be tempting, though!

The day featured many other wonderful things: a huge T-bone steak on the grill for me, which I ate with great gusto, visits from the first few large butterflies to my yard, and some down time to rest and relax and watch a few movies (Men in Black II and Jumanji were our features for this day) and just chill, as they say.

There is something else, though: someone who has been on my mind in the past week, and I was also thinking of her. My dear friend Janet whom I have known online for years and years has a sister named Pyzi, who has been battling cancer since around the same time that my own sister got sick last year. (A few updates on my own sister's story may be found here and here.)

A week ago, Pyzi's battle ended, but not in the way that we all had hoped. This is the first Memorial Day my dear friend Janet has been without her sister by her side. My heart goes out to my friend, and to all who love her sister. It is one of the hardest parts, the letting go.

Flowers are typically a fine way to remember a loved one, and so there I was out among the columbine once again. And I crafted a little photo shoot featuring the Dancing Girls (whom I have always thought of as sisters, cousins, and friends), the Crittergators, and the lovely pale columbine blooms that remind me so much of angels.

As you may know, another name for columbine is fool's cap, and of course when they learned that, EVERYbody had to try wearing their petals like hats! My intention with the photo shoot was to celebrate the everyday, the ridiculous, and the sublime moments of sisterhood. For sisters are forever friends, and even death cannot part them. One of the pictures from that little photo shoot appears in the extras.

I know my dear friend is heavy of heart right now, as I would be in her situation (for as you all know, I cannot bear the thought of losing a sister either!), but if my little remembrance brought her even the tiniest smile, it was well worth it.

I'm including two songs with this posting: one for each picture. The first is a favorite, and I have used it shamelessly several times, though generally I try not to repeat songs: Cat Stevens, with Morning Has Broken. And the second is one I have just discovered that I like very much indeed. This song is dedicated to my friend and her sister: Lady Antebellum (and yes, that's Jim Brickman tickling the ivories), with Never Alone. These are the first few lines of the song:

May the angels protect you,
Trouble neglect you,
And heaven accept you when it's time to go home.

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