Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Perpetual Joy: Graveside Circus Peanuts

Lucinda Matlock

I went to the dances at Chandlerville,
And played snap-out at Winchester.
One time we changed partners,
Driving home in the moonlight of middle June,
And then I found Davis.
We were married and lived together for seventy years,
Enjoying, working, raising the twelve children,
Eight of whom we lost
Ere I had reached the age of sixty.
I spun, I wove, I kept the house, I nursed the sick,
I made the garden, and for holiday
Rambled over the fields where sang the larks,
And by Spoon River gathering many a shell,
And many a flower and medicinal weed—
Shouting to the wooded hills, singing to the green valleys.
At ninety-six I had lived enough, that is all,
And passed to a sweet repose.
What is this I hear of sorrow and weariness,
Anger, discontent and drooping hopes?
Degenerate sons and daughters,
Life is too strong for you—
It takes life to love Life.

From The Spoon River Anthology by Kansan Edgar Lee Masters

Perpetual Joy: Where I blog about things that amuse me, tickle me, or generally make me feel good, and you scratch your head.

My father's headstone was placed in the cemetery last week, so Sunday I visited it. In my youth the cemetery was a place to drink beer or engage in other teenage hijinks. At 40 it's a much different place. I know many of the names on the headstones, and with those names I have a library of stories I could share. There's joy in these recollections, and of course, sadness.

It's difficult to stand in a cemetery and not be aware that the clock is ticking and there's not a darn thing I can do to stop it. All I can do is decide how I want to use the time I've been given. However, this type of contemplation often yields more questions than answers.

Amidst all this cloudy-with-a-chance-of-sunshine thinking, I was still able to find something to amuse me. On Mr. Roy Robert Heckman's headstone set a bag of circus peanuts.

Look closely. Do you see the Circus Peanuts? This tickled me. Were they there because Mr. Heckman loved Circus Peanuts? Or was it an inside joke Mr. Heckman shared with a granddaughter? I wanted to know the story behind the Circus Peanuts.

I guess it doesn't make much sense to snap photos of a bag of Circus Peanuts. It certainly doesn't make sense to write about them. This post is a little odd and disjointed (New blog name: Odd and Disjointed). However, I refuse to play by the rules. I'm intrigued by the stories that are products of this crazy world, and I'm especially intrigued by the obscure, the whimsical, or the things that most don't notice.

When you see graveside offerings, I'll be there. I'll be everywhere. Wherever you can look - wherever there's a ritual people deem outdated, I'll be there to document it. Wherever the world decides to stomp on the accelerator, I'll be there slamming on the brakes. I'll be there in the way guys howl against the glide of a slide guitar. I'll be in the way kids laugh when they visit the local ice cream shop. I'll be there when supper's ready, and when the people are eatin' the stuff they raise and livin' in the houses they build - I'll be there, too.****

What snack should we place on your grave?

we're all goin' to die someday,

***I lifted and revised this from John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. I enjoyed reworking it, but it needs more thought and revision. I'll revisit it later. I like the idea of writing a mantra or code of beliefs.

I'm trying to have more fun and take chances with my writing. I also want to be more prolific. I'm bound to stumble, but I'm enjoying myself.


Jenni said...

Lucinda Matlock is my favorite in The Spoon River Anthology, I think. It's been a long time since I've read it, but I remember her well. That bit further down did sound vaguely familiar;o)

What a great find in those circus peanuts! Of course you had to take pictures and write about it. Now you have this little snapshot saved and maybe someday you'll write the story behind those circus peanuts.

I have seen cans of beer left on gravestones, and I've seen rocks. I think it's a Jewish tradition to leave small "stones of rememberance." I like the stones. Some other beautiful or interesting thing from nature would be nice, too. No silk flowers or flags for me, thanks anyway. But you said snacks, and I guess circus peanuts would be about as good as any. I do love circus peanuts.

Thanks for the link, btw. Looks like an interesting blog!

Jenni said...

And now, a link for you. (Hat tip to MFS at Mental Multivitamin.)

Nella said...

Place a bottle of champagne on my grave. It will make any who know me, smile. And, someone just might pick up the bottle and take it home to have a glass. I'd like to think it would be their first time to have champagne. Another smile.

Keep writing.....anything.

Courtney Large said...

I just love to read your blog! It always just lifts my spirits. I have to admit though, when I saw the asterisks and then saw Steinbeck Grapes of Wrath my jaw dropped. I started thinking "I can't believe I gave him so much grief about reading that book in school! That's fantastic!" but of course, it was revised by you.
We always place Cheetos on my brother's grave. The night before he passed away he said "If I die tomorrow bury me with Cheetos" so we did.
Great read Mr. T!
Courtney Large

High Plains Drifters said...

"You're getting old, I'm getting old, we're all getting old. Everybody's getting old ... 'Cept for Chicken George."

~ From the mini-series Roots.