Memorial Day weekend always serves as the unofficial kickoff for summer. Around these parts, the parks are full of family reunions, with legions of folks dressed in identical T-shirts -- playing horseshoes, volleyball, and, yes, soccer. At Shelby Farms, where I spent Saturday afternoon, the sounds of soul music and salsa blended and faded in the humid air, depending upon where you walked.
At other gatherings, later in the weekend, I saw many folks I hadn't seen since that spate of parties that precedes Christmas and New Year's. Memorial Day, it occurred to me, is almost like a counterweight to those holidays -- an acknowledgement that, yes, we survived another season of winter and school and basketball fever, and now, by God, it sure is hot and these mosquitos are a pain in the butt, but it's summertime and the livin' is easy. And aren't we all glad to be here.
At my weekly golf match, I heard all about my friend Jon's new driver and my friend Larry's new irons. And I marveled at the hope that springs eternal -- that new clubs will overcome our bodies' old habits and flaws. I decided I probably needed a new driver.
I attended a party on the banks of the Mississippi on the Arkansas side. It was a celebration for a friend's child who had just graduated from college. I saw kids -- who I watched play T-ball and whom I drove in carpools -- drinking beer, smoking cigarettes, talking about their jobs. "How are you, Mr. VanWyngarden?" they said, apparently surprised at my survival into dotage.
"Old," I thought. But alive and happy to be so. I watched barges churning their way up the wide brown river, listened to soul music as the sun set over the dark trees, and -- because this is Memphis, and it's required -- savored a plate of barbecue with my beer.
I heard political gossip -- some old, some new. I threw a frisbee. I caught a catfish. I let the ubiquitous big party dog nuzzle my posterior. And it was good.
Ah, summer. Let the daze begin.
Bruce VanWyngarden, Editor
Exactly seven years ago this week, I wrote a column decrying a proposal by city engineers to turn the Overton Park Greensward into an 18-foot-deep "detention basin" designed to stop flooding in Midtown. The engineers claimed we'd hardly notice the football-field-sized bowl. "Except," I wrote then, "when it rains hard, at which time, users of Overton Park would probably notice a large, 18-foot-deep lake in the Greensward. Or afterward, a large, muddy, trash-filled depression."