Memorial Day weekend in New England is somewhat of a rite of passage for northerner’s. We open our windows, come out of hibernation, reintroduce ourselves to our neighbors and proudly display Old Glory. Green has all but replaced brown, the buzz of a distant lawnmower is almost as constant as our to-do lists with the transition of the season. Spring clean up at my house is also a time of rediscovering all the items left in my yard last fall; a lawn rake, several dog toys and that missing spare set of keys are just some of the debris snowmelt has revealed. But Memorial Day weekend is supposed to be so much more than cookouts and clean-up. It should be a time to remember all things loved and lost.
Buddy’s most prizes possessions no longer litter the yard anymore. Regardless, I still make my pre-mow inspection and find myself in time passed.
The annual Memorial Day Yard Sale was an event that started out as an honest to goodness yard sale but always seemed to end up “The Annual Backyard Bash”.
A few years ago, it was one for the record books. Mother Nature brought us sunshine and temps well into the upper 80’’s, and for that very reason the turnout was nothing short of Woodstock. My home and property is open to all. Friends from all walks of life turn up with cars and trucks, loaded to the gills. Tents, campers and coolers scatter the landscape along with beach chairs and sunbathers. Friends invite friends who invite their friends and neighbors. It’s a time to turn up the music, fire up the grill, light the teekee torches and the bonfire. My kitchen soon reaches fire code with some folks I’ve never met. Dogs and babies I’ve never seen before run wild. Doors are never closed, music is never turned down, sparks light up the night sky, inner tubes and even kayaks drift down the river. People even wash their cars. And during it all, we somehow manage to welcome visitors who apprehensively browse the yard for bargains. Tables of refuse line the dooryard, along with old jeeps, tires, boats, car parts, even engines. You name it, if it’s on my front yard – it’s for sale – well most things anyway.
“How much for the dog”? the bargain hunter yelled. Out of the corner of my eye Buddy made his way down the dooryard at a snail’s pace. “Which one”? I asked, jokingly. “That one” he replied, The old black one with the gimp”, as he pointed in the direction of my clueless canine. “He doesn’t come with any papers, but I’ll take five … firm”. A few nearby shared a chuckle.
Later that afternoon while negotiating the $3 price tag on my old VCR the man returned. “I checked with the wife – she don’t want another dog. You got any cats”? “Nope” I said, trying to contain myself. “Just the dog”, I said straight-faced. It began to settle in that the man was serious, and although I almost felt guilty, I just had to play ball. “Five ain’t bad when you get down to it really” I said. “Well I know, and ya can’t really dicker on five anyway” he returned with.
Seemingly uninterested in continuing to negotiate we struck up a conversation about some old parts to a Chevy Cavalier. After a formal introduction, he asked if I had any other dogs. Then, he asked what Buddy did. “Huntin mostly” I came back with. “I seen him sniffin the yard something good – what’d he hunt”? “Rabbit” I just had to say, naturally. “Must’ve been wicked fast back in his day”. “Wicked” I replied. The conversation dragged some before he paid for his tin watering can and bucket of paint brushes. “Who lives here anyway”? the man asked. I just shrugged and began my stroll towards the crowd in the river decked out with swimsuits, floaties and inner tubes.
Little did I know of the prank some friends had been up to. Poor ol Buddy had been a walking billboard for the last few hours, greeting bargain hunters in the dooryard donning a makeshift “For Sale” sign. “$5” was scribbled on the back side of a LaBatt Blue twelve pack, strung up over his back.
For those of you who might not understand how anyone could memorialize anything on Memorial Day with the left-over cardboard from a case of beer, I guess you just had to be there.