By Jill Bialosky
After father died
the love was all through the house
untamed and sometimes violent.
When the dates came we went up to our rooms
and mother entertained.
Frank Sinatra's "Strangers in the Night,"
the smell of Chanel No.5 in her hair and the laughter.
We sat crouched at the top of the stairs.
In the morning we found mother asleep on the couch
her hair messed, and the smell
of stale liquor in the room.
We knelt on the floor before her,
one by one touched our fingers
over the red flush in her face.
The chipped sunlight through the shutters.
It was a dark continent
we and mother shared;
it was sweet and lonesome,
the wake men left in our house.
We had a beautiful Sunday to make up for the miserably rainy cold Friday and Saturday -- the sky cleared while we were driving to Gettysburg to meet my in-laws and stayed beautiful all day. Cinda had a recorded audio tour of the battlefield on cassette tape, so after a brief stop in the visitor center, we drove around while listening to the narration about the locations and the events of the battle that unfolded there. Since the weather was so nice, we stopped and got out to walk in several places -- we even climbed the observation tower overlooking the battlefield and President Eisenhower's farm. The park wasn't very crowded and the temperature was perfect.
Paul, Daniel, Adam and Clair at the Eternal Light Peace Memorial on Oak Hill, dedicated during the 75th anniversary commemoration of the battle and lit by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The Irish Brigade memorial, one of my favorites with its Celtic decorations and sad dog, looked beautiful surrounded by changing leaves.
Little Round Top also looked quite colorful from across the orchards.
Indications that autumn had arrived were all over the park. It was a bit muddy from all the rain, but not enough to make any place we stopped hard to walk around.
Adam found several woolly bear caterpillars but I have never known how to interpret their stripes about whether winter will be harsh or not.
Robert E. Lee sits atop the Virginia memorial, the only Southern general so celebrated among the monuments in the park.
Thousands of horses as well as people died at the Battle of Gettysburg. Still, we saw many happy horses giving tours to visitors.
The Trostle Farm barn, standing at the time of the battle, has Confederate cannon ball holes still visible.
We offered to let the kids climb on the rocks at Devil's Den even though we expected it to be muddy, but the kids, who had eaten lunch at 11, were ravenous and we needed to get home relatively early, so we had an early dinner at Red Lobster to celebrate belatedly both boys' birthdays with my in-laws who have been driving to the west coast and back in their camper visiting Paul's brothers, other relatives and friends all summer. I ordered off the lighthouse menu since it was the only way I could be sure how much sodium I was getting, and I must say that their wood-grilled salmon is excellent by any standards; I was sad at first not to be able to order cajun shrimp, but I really didn't miss it.
Once again I'm glad I didn't spend any of the weekend waiting for the Terps, Redskins, or Ravens to win...I think Favre and the Vikings will be my NFL team this season!