When I woke up this morning and looked at the thermometer, I originally thought I'd slept, not only through Memorial Day, but through the entire month of June.
"Seventy-five?!?" I thought. "The last time is was this warm on Memorial Day was... well... never!"
It should be noted that Memorial Days in Wisconsin can be one of the most brutal holidays weatherwise. I mean, I've suffered through grilling in mittens and a parka while being pelted by sleet carried on a gale force wind. I've played many muddy games of softball in a fog so dense that my throws from second base to home plate had all the accuracy of a scud missile launched by a moron. To wake up and see such a pleasant morning sent my entire body into a spastic, trembling shock and as I made coffee, I tried to contain my giddiness at actually being able to get outside and enjoy an enjoyable holiday with, most importantly, enjoyable weather.
It was a beautiful day until, of course, the moment I began to get my charcoal started. Without warning, an armada of heavy, gray clouds crept in carrying with them the thunderous reminders of Memorial Days past. And, as the wind picked up, my coals began to blaze, and I dumped them from my chimney starter into the belly of Fireball, my ever-dependendable Weber grill. As I ran into the house to get my steaks, I felt the first few drops of Memorial Day fall, and when I came back outside with my pile of soon to be perfectly grilled meat, those few drops had turned into an utter downpour.
"Ah-ha!" I thought as the dirt beneath my feet turned to mud. "This is more like Memorial Day."
I huddled around Fireball as small whisps of steam became a bellowing cloud. I would have enjoyed the barbecue facial had I not been preoccupied with the relentless, demoralizing "tink... tink... tink..." sound coming from my beer can as raindrops dripped steadily from my nose.
I flipped the steaks, and rather than be greeted by the pleasant sound of a much approved sizzle, my head was rattled by a flash of lightning and the crack of a thunder-bolt.
Eventually, with the steaks cooked, I flipped my upside-down plate over (a trick you learn when grilling in Wisconsin on Memorial Day), and I trotted into the house, set the steaks down to rest and changed into some drier clothes before feeding the growling collection of friends that had stopped over.
As I sat down to devour my dinner, the skies cleared and the sun beamed in through the dining room windows. In the distance, between our laughter, we could hear the rumbles of Memorial Day drifting slowly away, and I told myself the same thing I've told myself since I can remember: Next year will be better --that is, of course, if it isn't snowing.
The thing is, regardless of suffering through my dreadful weather, I honestly don't mind because I know that there are many out there who would rather be home now, rain or shine, and because of them, and a great many who've come before them and the sacrifices they've made, I can stand in my backyard in the pouring rain and still feel thankful.
So, how did you enjoy this holiday? I know some of you have soldiers in your family, and when you see them or speak to them, tell them all thank you for me.