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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Small town Memorial Day

There are two traffic lights in town, one on either side of the river.  The Town Hall is on the west side; churches, restaurants and shops on the east end.  The cemeteries are west of the river, so the Memorial Day observances and parades to the cemeteries begin at the Town Hall.  The road crew clears out the garage, steam cleans and seals the floor every May, in the run up to Memorial Day.  New flags are purchased for the flag pole. The fire department bring down the tanker, or a squad, or both, to display in the garage.  They pass out coffee and donuts inside the garage.  The people and the cars assemble in the lot; they’re marshaled into order by a remarkable cemetery trustee who has brought order from chaos for forty or fifty years, and off they go, for ceremonies first in one and then in the other cemetery.  About five hundred people went through the garage this weekend, ate donuts, looked at the fire trucks, got in order for a parade.

Our road super, the poster child for conservation, faced a dilemma.  A sunflower through the concrete.  I asked him what he would do.  The plant put itself square in the middle of a door that a fire truck would drive through and several hundred people would walk through.  “I’ll cone it off,” he said.

Friday, when I left work.

Tuesday morning.

Malvina Reynolds, remembered as one of folk music’s most inspirational writers, would be proud of the sunflower, the road super and the paraders.

God bless the grass that grows thru the crack.
They roll the concrete over it to try and keep it back.
The concrete gets tired of what it has to do,
It breaks and it buckles and the grass grows thru,
And God bless the grass.
God bless the truth that fights toward the sun,
They roll the lies over it and think that it is done.
It moves through the ground and reaches for the air,
And after a while it is growing everywhere,
And God bless the grass.
God bless the grass that grows through cement.
It's green and it's tender and it's easily bent.
But after a while it lifts up its head,
For the grass is living and the stone is dead,
And God bless the grass.
God bless the grass that's gentle and low,
Its roots they are deep and its will is to grow.
And God bless the truth, the friend of the poor,
And the wild grass growing at the poor man's door,
And God bless the grass.


  1. I want to see pictures when it flowers.

    Cranky Old Man

    1. I'm as interested in this sunflower as our road super. We'll be on top of it.

  2. I like nothing more than to see flowers growing out of the concrete.

  3. I like this very much - amazing that the super would be so protective of a single plant - good on him!

    You got me curious about Malvina Reynolds and I thought I wasn't familiar with her work - until I read that she wrote "Little Boxes", a wonderful little piece :)

  4. Lovely little poem. Here's wishing that feisty sunflower a good summer!

  5. Thanks for introducing me to Malvina Reynolds. Next time my wife is asking me to remove weeds from the cracks in the cement I'll remember to pull out this poem. I don't have much hope in it halting the weed whacking but who knows.

  6. Oh. Too fabulous for words. I love that the road super coned it off. Such a lovely, kindhearted man. And what a lovely story. Seriously, lovely. I know I've said lovely way too many times but JOANNE, it is. Lovely.

  7. "God Bless the Grass" is Divinely inspirational. We can all feel hope surge up inside as these pictures unfold. Deep gratitude to you for sharing. Reminds me of Leonard Cohen's "There's a crack in everything. That's where the light comes in. That's where the light comes in."

  8. Visiting from Life on the Muskoka River blog - she said such nice things about your blog. I'm your newest follower ;-)

    Love to see flowers growing in impossible places!

  9. What a great post! (i'm now following along)

  10. Love this post. Lovely, just like Cathy said. So glad to have found your blog.

    Sometimes I feel like that sunflower. :)

  11. Just...Wow. Really. Thanks for sharing this with us. Long live the sunflower.

  12. I was directed here by Cathy Olliffe-Webster after she mentioned you in her blog - and I'm so glad I decided to seek you out!

    I love the verse at the end - very inspirational (I may have to 'steal' that to pin up as a reminder to myself!)

    I'm looking forward to having a wander about your blog!

    SueH I refuse to go quietly!

    Twitter - @Librarymaid

  13. Such a lovely post. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  14. 'God bless the grass' and God bless you! Thank you for the lovely story.

    Evalina, This and that...

  15. Cathy was right about your blog! Love how a small town makes way for a sunflower! :)

  16. Cathy raved about you for a reason!

  17. Real people live in small towns.

  18. Only a small town behaves this way..The Sunflower?? Reminds me of the poppies in Flanders field. "Grew it where the dead had fallen.Willed it where the dying lay, so the world would still remember When the war clouds cleared away." Thank you small town and Joanne for such a tribute to the will of all living things and the bravery of all those fallen in the fight.

  19. I LOVE SMALL TOWNS!!! This was wonderful! I love your town's coned-off sunflower! And thank you for sharing that poem. I hand't heard it before. Truly inspiring!

  20. Oh what a wonderful thing to see that sunflower cordoned off and a great poem to read and think about too, I hadn't heard it before.