We seem to have come full circle from “Can you believe this gorgeous weather? In JULY??” to “I can’t believe it’s raining all day on the FOURTH!!! (in tones of Suellen when Scarlett stole Mr. Kennedy).
It was not quite so bad as all that, with the parade time pretty cloudy, very cool for flag-waving-time, but quite enjoyable. We simply walked the small distance to the parade route, stood leaning on a conveniently-parked car beneath the trees, and watched the small-town assortment of bands, small children, old soldiers, crepe-papered trailers and tractors and Radio Flyers and a great gaggle of door-postered vehicles announcing this and that political someone whose eager minions scattered theoretical blessings at our feet in the form of Tootsie Rolls and a good percentage of all the cellophaned sweeties available in the local markets.
The motorcycle patrol led off, with sirens paving their way---their crisp black uniforms and shiny kneeboots lending a polished air to their basketweaving maneuvers up and down the street, and when the first band, T-shirt clad and perhaps forty strong, stopped in review and started the strains of “God Bless America,” I felt the swell of hometown and country-pride, as well as the prickles of tears. We stood erect from our casual hip-slumps against a stranger’s fender as the Colors passed, and then for the dozen or so older gentlemen in various uniforms of past service, some smartly stepping along, and others moving more slowly, their step and waves not quite as brisk, but their aura of brave determination as palpable as at Normandy, at Pan Mun Jom, in the grim steambath of the Tet Offensive and the dry oven of Desert Storm.
Then came all the political figures who could lay claim to a local position of note; their vehicles passed in a slow blur of star-and-stripe posters, waving hands and flung candy, and were rather ironically followed by a fire-and-brimstone preacher with a loud microphone and a trailer encircled with dire depictions of Hell.
Horses with ribboned manes, strollers full of babies and dogs and balloons, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts and tiny gi-clad dojo-kids, kicking and lunging their way along the route, firetrucks and motorbikes and a great phalanx of roller-skaters, with a surprising dearth of in-lines---they wore the same ankle-high four-wheelers that we all rented on Saturday nights at the rink. They all made up the character of the parade, and of the red-white-and-blue pride we were watching pass on the everyday street.
Another band, perhaps two hundred this time, led off with rifle girls snapping those white plastic weapons with the expertise of blunt-chinned Marines, then the great ranks of silver instruments with a rousing rendition of “Glory, Glory, Hallelujah” following them past the crowds. The Flag Girls were like bright butterflies bringing up the rear, with flutters of red and white still visible down the route til they turned the last corner.
A few cool, misty drops hit our arms just as the parade was winding down; we strolled home, full of patriotic pride and gratitude. We went to Golden Corral for a few lingering bits of the wearying brunch, came home to the first earnest raindrops, read for a bit, then took a nap in the windows-open cool to the sound of the soft Summer rain.
A hot dog for supper, just because, and a retrace of our route out at 9:30, in the still-pattering raindrops, the unaccustomed slacks and windbreakers feeling just wrong for fireworks. We stopped short of the gotta-be-muddy-by-now park grounds, took shelter under the deserted colonnade of the shopping strip, and watched the fireworks glow through a glass darkly, as the clouds and mist afforded a barely-translucent view. We opened our bag of sweet dark cherries and for politeness’ sake, bagged our spit-out seeds into a smaller bag for disposal. Grass is one thing and all, but it just wasn’t right, somehow, to spit anything onto the public pavement.
I did notice something I’d never seen before---the slick wet black of the parking lot between us and the fireworks had the shine of the arc-lights over on the outer rim, and mirrored the skyward colors as the fireworks made a brave attempt at their usual glory. Neither the real nor the valiant reflection of themselves fulfilled the clear-skies splendor of former nights. Tomorrow that old black lot will be dulled and dry, with only the ranks of yellow lines for color, but last night was its night to SHINE.