Saturday, July 4, 2009


The weather has been simply glorious lately---every single getting-twilight evening, I say to myself: If I were having a patio dinner/party/gathering, I’d want it to be TODAY. It’s been just that beautiful. Thursday, though a little bit overcast all the way on our quick trip up and down I-65 to and from Chicago, was just beautiful as well. The sky and the sunlight and the breezes---just conjured from a climate catalog.

And now the whole day is supposed to be rainy. No matter. We’ve watched floody parades and waded to and from the fireworks, hoping our chairs didn’t mire up in the grassy field, and trusting that we would not leave divots to plague all the ballplayers.

We sat a couple of years ago beneath umbrellas, sorta huddled together in the evening chill (I still find it weird to be writing that---my Summer standard has been shaken and my heat indicator thrown awry, in this not-like-home place four states from our raisin’). We ducked as the drizzle dripped from the brims, kept big towels across our laps, and squinted at the kaleidoscope-blur of the colors racing skyward, their rainbow totally skewed from the norm and muddled a bit into a strange oil-on-water reflection of themselves through the gentle rain.

One Fourth, years ago, we gathered at a neighboring farm, where my son’s band was playing for the afternoon. Several guests were going home with us for burgers later in the day, and we’d already been to my parents’ house for a huge lunch of the same, plus great pans of baked beans and bowls of potato salad, all of which went home with us for the “party” later---at Mother’s insistence. As we lolled on quilts and lawn chairs, someone mentioned supper, and another chimed in---somehow the word went round the lawn, and when we gathered our things to leave, we seemed to have acquired quite a procession of young folks, hungry from dancing and beer, and ready to head for the familiar kitchen of so many meals in the past.

I dispatched a couple to the little store for ice and more Cokes and extra buns, and delegated this one to gather chairs and another to get out the paper goods, still others to start slicing great plates of tomatoes and onion and cheese. One of the ladies began to inventory amongst all the condiments in the fridge, and brought out mayo and mustard and ketchup, jars of homemade dills and pickled okra and chowchow and salsa. We decided against burgers, from the sheer number---twenty-five, I think, when seven were invited.

I started browning the meat and stirred up a big pot of Sloppy Joes in quick-time, set out the salad, and heated up the beans. The food went onto the kitchen bar just as the errand-crew returned with ice and drinks, and everyone lined up. It was a fun, memorable time, with more than enough food to go around more than once, and I wouldn't take anything for the memory of an impromptu meal with grown-up young folks whose childhoods had been so much a part of our lives.

(No mention here, among the lovely family memories, of the one year that a bunch of us, young folks ourselves, opted against all those festivities and went to see The Graduate instead, and I saw so many people I knew entering the theater, and then was so embarrassed that they might see me leaving that scandalous movie with all that racy dialogue, I scurried out through the lobby with my purse over my face, like Paris fleeing paparazzi).

We plan to walk out the back gate to the fireworks tonight, after our off-the-grill dinner at home, but we’ve already mentioned to each other one Fourth that stands out, even though it was just us two. We were in Georgia to visit the children, and since the one tiny Granddaughter had an early bedtime, we went back early to our hotel.

We went to our room from that bright hot day, stripped into just our underwear, and stood in the cool at our top-floor, almost-shoulder-high window, looking down at the crowds parading past in that Georgia heat---trundling baby strollers, wheeled coolers, little red wagons full of children/lawn chairs/beer. And as the twilight fell, we watched the behind-the-scenes magic of fireworks being shot from a parking garage just below and to the right, flying skyward and bursting over the river that flowed almost beneath our feet.

A scan of the horizon showed nine separate fireworks displays, going off inch-high all at once in every town within sight-range, while we munched drippy, salty boiled peanuts and drank icy Co-Cola. No travel agent could have arranged the "Southern experience" better.

And A Happy, Safe Fourth to Everyone!!


Tonja said...

I loved this post! It always seems those times that are the most memorable are the ones that had the least planning or even no planning at all! Is it because we get so all caught up in
in the planning and getting everything 'just right'...that when we get to the event, we're so tired and overwhelmed that we can't enjoy it?

I think the saying is true..."we don't remember day...we remember moments"!
Happy 4th!

racheld said...

It was quite memorable, partly for the impromptu ease of it, and partly for the gathering of so many of my children's childhood friends, so used to being at our table all their lives. It was a kind of Farewell to Summer, almost, in the getting together before we moved here and everyone went their separate ways.

Pear tree cottage! said...

I just love the way your day fell in place and I am sure was a lot of fun too!!