Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Poppy for Memorial Day

by Willow from the Threadville Mystery Series by Janet Bolin

I love everything about Memorial Day—watching and listening to Clay Fraser and his marching band in the parade and then later in the bandstand at the picnic. I love the food, the fun, the fireworks, the promise of a long, lazy summer ahead. This year, though, one image stands out.

Sam Fedders, my eighty-something neighbor, called to me from the yard in front of his old-timey hardware store, The Ironmonger. “Don’t have to mow much, this year,” he said. “Nope. Too dry. Don’t remember a May like this ever before.”

We commiserated on the spring we’ve had, the early hot spell followed by frost that wiped out some of the local tree fruit crops, and now this long dry spell that threatened other crops.

“Farmers don’t have it easy,” he said. “Lucky me, though. I was born to hardware. No danger from drought or frost or bugs. Just good, tough things, made of steel. But come back into my garden. I have something you have to see.”

Like my backyard, his sloped down toward the river and was secluded between deep, dark cedar hedges, but he had fewer trees, and the center of his yard got lots of sun. There, in a circular flower garden surrounded by white-painted stones, a velvety deep red poppy seemed to glow from within.

Photo by Janet Bolin
“Emma loved this color,” he said. After a long pause during which I barely breathed, he explained, “My wife. She was like this flower. Vibrant, cheerful.” He stared down into the purple tufted center of the flower. “And just unfolding.” He looked up at me, and his pale eyes were teary. “And fragile and short-lived. I would have loved to see her grow as wrinkly as this flower, and as wrinkly as I’ve become, but she was only twenty-three when I lost her. You remind me of her, Willow, in a way. Strong, good, and a wee bit impulsive.” He smiled to show he wasn’t criticizing me.

 I thanked him.

 “Now you go back to your dogs,” he ordered. “Wouldn’t want them staying alone too long.”

I left Sam contemplating the depths of his vibrant red poppy. Sam the Ironmonger. Born to hardware. Good, tough, and made of steel.

Did any of your friends or family lose somebody young, somebody you wished you could have met?

You can learn more about Sam and how he helped Willow solve a murder in DIRE THREADS, which was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First novel, and has also been nominated for the Bloody Words Light Mystery Award (the Bony Blithe.) DIRE THREADS is available in stores everywhere.

And now—Ta Da! The second novel in the Threadville Mystery series, THREADED FOR TROUBLE, will be released this Tuesday, June 5, and is available for pre-order. Visit Janet at facebook and twitter.


  1. I like Memorial Day, too! And I can't wait to read Threaded for Trouble. Good luck to you and your author :-)

  2. Ah, but on Memorial Day, when I see poppies, I think of the poem... 'In Flanders Fields the poppies blow, between the crosses, row on row...'

    But aside from that... my dad's brother drowned young, and I've always wondered what he would have been like!

    1. Yes, we often think of poppies on November 11, but they bloom around Memorial Day.

      How sad for your father, and for you for never meeting your uncle.

  3. Only a few more days until I can get my hands on Threaded for Trouble -- so looking forward to the read!

    1. I dread to think what my author may have written about me this time. I hope it's a romance, and nothing to do with (shudder) murder. Once was enough. But you know these authors!

  4. Willow, I'm so excited to read your new adventures! Sam sounds like a great guy. I wished I could have met my Uncle Bruce. He died in the war. My dad loved him a ton! Pictures of them as boys are so special.

    ~Daryl aka Avery