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May

Published: Monday, May 12, 2014 11:37 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, May 13, 2014 2:53 p.m. CDT

The month of May might best be described as a busy month. Farmers are frantically tilling the soil, trying to make up for a wet spring with monstrous machinery I don’t even recognize, and town-folk are busy scratching the surface of their lawns and gardens, both farmer and townie thankful that warm weather is here at last. I smelled the lilacs this morning, which means mushrooms are a popping.

May is also a month of plentiful events. The month starts off with a warm-up, May 1, May Day — little kids (and adults) scampering around the neighborhood, leaving May Baskets on door steps, ringing door bells and scurrying away, leaving gifts of surprise and sweetness, like spring itself — dance around the May Pole! Star Wars enthusiasts then runaround saying, “May the Fourth be with you.” Cinco de Mayo follows, with its colorful parades, celebrations and fireworks. Mother’s Day is a big one, the celebration of she who bore us, and of earth itself (Mother Earth). Of course, there’s Memorial Day, the first Monday (long weekend) holiday of the year, a warm-up to summer and an opportunity to memorialize those we love. Sprinkled within May, like daffodils and dandelions, are outdoor graduations and alumni banquets (with alternate indoor facilities on reserve).

For me, the month started off dysfunctional. Taking pictures of bees on crab-apple blossoms, chipmunks looking like old men with their cheeks stuffed full, and fat robins gorging themselves on worms after a rain, I noticed my photos were dark, or under-exposed. Rats. I like to use aperture priority, or the “A” setting on my Nikon, so that both the subject and background are in focus. If there’s one thing I don’t like, it’s a blurry background, in life as well as photography. On some of the other settings, like “Auto,” the pictures were clear, but without the desired background clarity.

I fiddled with the menu settings, trying to find the problem, but to no avail. I took the camera to one of my camera buddies who also has a Nikon. This camera jock went through the menu settings, but couldn’t find anything wrong. Then his dreaded pronouncement that I feared was coming: the camera was broken and would have to be sent in for repair. Grr. I swung by the camera shop to (a) have them look at it or (b) have them send the camera in. Before I could even describe the problem, the guy at the counter chirped, “Your exposure compensation is off.” With the flick of a wrist, voila, he had the problem solved. Like a spring storm that suddenly changes to sunshine, my mood swung from gloom-and-doom to elation. Springtime, here I come!

Then problem number two: my Kindle (digital book) crapped out. Rats! And I was right in the middle of a great book by Lorrie Moore. A communications-professor friend of mine had warned me about this: the average life of the digital word is three years. The average life of a word on paper is 100 years. He predicts the eventual disappearance of the written word as the world goes digital. Yikes!

To salvage the morning, I took Buddy for a walk. Low-and-behold, what do I spy on the curb (it was spring clean-up in Mt. Pleasant): “David Copperfield” by Charles Dickens. I rushed home to turn its pages. Oh, the feel of paper, the eloquent prose, and honest-to-God pictures, in color! “Maybe I’ll try to get the complete works of Charles Dickens,” I told myself. “Never will I return to the digital book.”

Never say never.

As if hearing, the Kindle sprang to life, seeming to say, “Me, me, don’t forget me. I’ll be good.” Tell me that inanimate objects don’t talk.

Next month, June — the month of weddings, Father’s Day, Flag Day, the first day of summer. And Pentecost.

Beware (or welcome) the tongues of fire.

Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at curtswarm@yahoo.com, or visit his website at www.empty-nest-words-photos-and-frames.com. Curt also reads his columns on www.lostlakeradio.com.

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