The Last Rose of Summer

Rose - 1618 Kingsway Dr 10-20-2015I’ve been struggling with what to post about Mother’s Birthday Season when she’s not here to celebrate it. I’ve made a dozen false starts, but none of them worked. Then, two things hit me today.

  • I got an email from Curator Jessica that read, “We had our first killing frost last night and my poor basil didn’t make it. This afternoon, while I was lamenting my basil, I turned around and saw one of my rosebushes had a bud that seemed to have weathered the frost. I sang the Grateful Dead to it and thought of you.”
  • I woke up to a flat tire (a nail nailed me). When I got back from having it patched, I opened the car door and was confronted with the rosebush on the light pole in front of the house. I took that as a sign I should visit Mother and Wife Lila’s Mother.

She was referring to Dark Muddy River

Miz Jessica heard Dark Muddy River because I told her I was considering it for a video about people and places along the Mississippi River that are no longer there.

When the last rose of summer pricks my finger
And the hot sun chills me to the bone
When I can’t hear the song for the singer
And I can’t tell my pillow from a stone

I will walk alone by the black muddy river
And sing me a song of my own
I will walk alone by the black muddy river
And sing me a song of my own

Mary Steinhoff tombstone 10-20-2015When the last bolt of sunshine hits the mountain
And the stars start to splatter in the sky
When the moon splits the southwest horizon
With the scream of an eagle on the fly

Tower Rock whirlpool full moon 07-22-2013_7338I will walk alone by the black muddy river
And listen to the ripples as they moan
I will walk alone by the black muddy river
And sing me a song of my own

Black muddy river
Roll on forever
I don’t care how deep or wide
If you got another side
Roll muddy river
Roll muddy river
Black muddy river roll

Lucille Perry tombstone 10-20-2015When it seems like the night will last forever
And there’s nothing left to do but count the years
When the strings of my heart start to sever
And stones fall from my eyes instead of tears

I will walk alone by the black muddy river
And dream me a dream of my own
I will walk alone by the black muddy river
And sing me a song of my own
And sing me a song of my own

The song

I’ve listened to that song while riding my bike around Lake Okeechobee on nights that are pitch-dark except for bolts of heat lightning cutting across the sky, and I’ve played it while watching the whirlpool swirl around Tower Rock in the Mississippi. It hits me differently every time, particularly in this context. I’m still going to have to come up with a Birthday Season story, but this will have to do as a space filler.

Click on the photo above to hear it on YouTube.

Florida Steinhoffs Invade Cape

Mary Steinhoff meets Finn 06-16-2015Niece Amy is getting married in Tulsa this weekend, so there has been a mass exodus from Florida headed to Oklahoma. It wasn’t exactly on the path, but Sons Adam and Matt, their spouses and their brood, stopped by to see Mother, who is very much on the mend.

She and I both finally got to meet the newest arrival, Finn Levi Steinhoff. You can click on the photos if you want to be exposed to excessive cuteness.

Four generations

Mother, Matt, Malcolm and I got together to update the last four-generation photo we took several years ago.

It was decided that three months was too long for me to go without a haircut and beard trim. (Like my barber says, “There are two kinds of men with hair on their faces: those who have beards and those who don’t shave.” I’m pretty sure I had slipped into that second category.)

I polled my Facebook friends and got several suggestions for a local barber. My requirements: “I want an old-fashioned barber. I don’t want a stylist, I don’t want the place to smell like hair spray, and I want a REAL barber chair, not some light-weight aluminum job.” Basically, I was looking for Ed Unger, but he retired in 1983.

I eliminated the ones from Bill Hopkins that suggested PETCO and a barber who is pretty good “when he is sober.” For the record, I was very happy with Scott at the Varsity Barber Shop.

Cards keep coming in

When I mentioned that Mother loves getting mail, scores of you sent some really cool cards. This one, by Jane Paquin, 74, of Seal Beach, Cal., was one of the most unique.

Tower Rock Whirlpool

Malcolm - Sarah - Matt Steinhoff Tower Rock 06-15-2015The whirlpool south of Tower Rock kept trying to get organized, but it would dissipate before it got going good. Still, it was fun for the group to guess whether a floating log would get pulled into the swirling water or if it would escape and go straight downstream.

I’ve driven the road between Cape and Wittenberg so many times that I take the hills and curves a little on the fast side. About two-thirds of the way there, Daughter-in-Law Sarah looked at Malcolm and warned, “I think we’re about to have a Dramamine moment back here.” I slowed down.

Gerard to the rescue

When we made it to the Altenburg Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum, Gerard Fiehler came to the rescue with a can of soda to calm things down. Before long, Malcolm was listening to Gerard tell him (and let him see for himself) the difference between how a harpsichord and a piano make sounds.

He liked the whirlpool, liked the museum, liked picking up railroad spikes along the train tracks, but he REALLY liked driving his great-grandmother’s riding mower around the back yard.

“Look at all the alligators”

Riverfront 06-17-2015When we went down to the riverfront, Graham looked at all the logs floating down the river and said, “Look at all the alligators!” You can tell he’s a Florida boy.

They got to splash rocks, see a towboat taking on fuel, touch the river and look at the mural on the flood wall. It’s a good thing they didn’t see this woman doing The Foolish Frolic in the floodwaters. They’d have probably tried it and ended up in New Orleans.

River walk photo gallery

Click on any photo to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to move through the gallery. In order of tallness: Adam, Carly, Graham, Elliot and (being carried), Finn.

Last Generation Poster

Preparing for full moon at Tower Rock 07-22-2013I’ve been busy editing videos all day for my The Last Generation presentation at the 2014 Immigration History Conference at the Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum in Altenburg on Saturday.

The project to interview men and women in East Perry county who spoke German as their primary language growing up started about two years ago, but, just like with my high school term papers, I’ve pushed the deadline about as far as you can push.

That’s why all you are going to get today is a copy of the poster to promote the project. I’ve made a lot of changes to the video I mentioned back in March, but it’ll give you an idea of what I’ve been working on.

(If that cloud photo looks familiar, it’s because I published it on a post about trying to shoot the full moon coming up over Tower Rock.

Click on the photo to make it larger if you want to count the birds. Hint: if you only get seven, you missed one.

Scenic Afternoon

Tower Rock area 10-19-2014I had to make a quick trip up to the Altenburg Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum to go over details for my Last Generation presentation this weekend.

It gave me a chance to do some scenic sightseeing. This is the tiny gravel road leading to Tower Rock. The leaves are getting ready to do their color thing. They should be in full show in a few more days, just in time for Wife Lila to see it. She’s flying from St. Louis on Cape Air, so she’ll be low enough to see the foliage from the sky down instead of from the ground up.

The river’s up

Tower Rock area 10-19-2014The river’s up, and the water swirling around Tower Rock has a lot of debris floating in it. I thought was was going to get to shoot a video of a huge log getting sucked into the beginning of a giant whirlpool, but it escaped the whirling waters. Then, just as quickly as it formed, the whirlpool dissipated like a funnel cloud pulling back up into the clouds.

Piles of persimmons

Tower Rock area 10-19-2014Mother’s favorite tree overlooking The Rock has been dropping persimmons like crazy. The ground is a carpet of sweet goo and seeds. The ladybugs, bees, yellow jackets and butterflies are having a field day sucking up the sweet nectar.

Normally I would have gathered up all the fruit worth saving, but reader Carol Lincoln Skowbo messaged me the other day that her neighbor’s tree leaves a mess of persimmons in her yard and asked if we wanted any. You can guess the answer. In the last week, we have been on a persimmon mashing binge. Carol and Mother have been baking all kinds of concoctions with the pumpkin-like pulp, and it has all been good. I’ll go into more detail in a later post.

Beauty in all directions

Tower Rock area 10-19-2014There is beauty everywhere you look at Tower Rock: look down and and watch bugs crawling over orange ornaments; look out and see the Mississippi River swirling around the rock the natives called “The Demon that Devours Travelers;” look up and see a gossamer tapestry of clouds.

Altenburg Hardwood Lumber Co.

Altenburg Hardwood Lumber Co 10-19-2014The late afternoon sun highlighted the sprayers playing over huge stacks of logs at the Altenburg Hardwood Lumber Company. The logs are trucked in from all over the region.

I have to compliment the drivers of the log trucks: every driver on that road has been nice enough to pass my bicycle with plenty of room to spare. Some of the guys will give a friendly toot and wave as they go by.

Red cattle on green grass

Farm near Fruitland 10-19-2014We were coming up on the “golden hour” just before I hit Hwy 61 north of Fruitland. I liked these cows well enough that I drove on until I could find a safe place to make a U-turn.

When I looked at them, I thought of a comment in an ancient Reader’s Digest. An oil company was trying to convince a farmer that they should be allowed to drill on his land. “Just think what it’ll be like to look out over your fields and see lights of all colors winking back at you. What would be prettier than gazing out at something that’s like a huge Christmas tree?”

“Red cattle on green grass,” the laconic farmer replied. “No sale.”

Copyright © Ken Steinhoff. All rights reserved.