Our Summer in Photos and a Remembrance

Nothing says summer like rhubarb.

Maya’s been in school a week now, so I figure, time for the photo-essay version of “What We Did Last Summer.” To re-cap:

Way back in May, I dumped my carcinogenic couch and got mad with the other protesters at a rally for the Safe Chemicals Act.

There were real jelly-fish, and fake ones.

There was food — lots of good food.

We enjoyed nearby Brookside Gardens.

And the Kingston Peninsula, in New Brunswick.

We made it to the beach, and met up with the wild horses on Assateague Island.

And, most poignant of all for me, we remembered and celebrated the long, fascinating life of my great-uncle, Russell MacCleery. Here’s what I read aloud about him at our service for family and friends up in Canada:

About Russell

He was a man who knew his way around a story.  He also knew his way around Washington, around a farm, around the state capitol in New Hampshire and other states, the backroads of New Brunswick.  He could shake the hand of a Senator, and then put on overalls and shingle a roof.

He was larger than life. He was born before women could vote, just five years after the first Model T car rolled off the line. In his life, he saw suffrage for women, two World Wars, the sprawling of highways all over the country, civil rights, a car in every garage, and so many transformations over a century of accelerating change.

He worked permanent things into the landscape. Some of the things he created in Washington, I have tried to undo. I couldn’t. They became, by his intention, part of the political structure, embedded.

He loved beautiful places. He fell in love with New Brunswick as a boy and it always got the better part of him, in a way. He was most himself here. He had lifelong friends, and family sitting all around, to hear his stories. And paint cans in the living room, and a box of frosting I once found in his kitchen from the 1950s.

I have sat for hours, listening to him. He could speak for hours! It was exhausting sometimes, actually. And now, I think back on those hours, and don’t regret a minute.

I miss his voice, that sudden guffaw, his good humor, even the anger he still carried towards my grandmother for making him do chores when he wanted to go out to a dance with Sanford instead, more than seventy years ago.

He had a way with a story, even one that told us more than he intended.

He was a natural historian, and capable of so many things, versatile, someone equally at home with cows and politicians.

There are few people with that capacity. I admired him, loved him like the grandfather I never knew, and miss him terribly, both the stories he told us, often more than once, and all those stories we will never hear again.

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