Friday, July 5, 2013

To Me, It's Not Just Another Sparkly Day Off

I realized this year that I really like the sounds of neighborhood fireworks and firecrackers popping off intermittently. I have no pets for them to bother and it is quite nostalgic in my current empty-nest stage. I stayed home all day, fussing around the house to "get stuff done," and spent time on the phone and watching some Cagney and Lacey DVDs that I got at Costco.
There was a parade over the hill in my new housing association neighborhood at the park above the beach, and some games or other festival events advertized, but I had spent too much time the previous three days trudging around the mean hills of Seattle in severe-weather-warning temperatures teaching some blind and VI teenagers how to get to their new job sites to want to go out in the sun so soon again.
Ah but, just before dusk, I braved a walk over the hill to view the fireworks out over the harbor and so very glad I did! 
It brought to mind this preditiction of John Adams' (although he didn't pose it as a prediction:) “It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shows, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more."
At the end of the fireworks display, I could have sworn I heard bagpipes playing "America the Beautiful" from down the grassy hill and sure enough, as I stood waiting and watching, a man came up the hill playing "As the Caissons Go Rolling Along" on his bagpipes. I talked to him and his family as they were getting in their car and the family just laughed and said they take him everywhere they go--he is such a hit!
What a treat!
On my walk over the hill, I heard families from inside their homes and camper trailers and in the yards or patios, and realized another something. People laugh a lot. I can never hear or really pay much attention to what people say off in the distance like that, but I always hear someone laughing. As a species, I think we laugh a lot! Can we be that funny?
I also remembered, again, the Independence Day celebrations of my childhood, chasing tiny parachutes across the lawn, jumping back from snakey ashes as if they would suddenly turn into real snakes, writing across the sky with swirling sparklers, hovering a "safe" distance while older, smarter, wiser friends and relatives struck matches to light bottle rockets.
After the fireworks were spent and their remains lay cooled in the road, I would collect a handful, put them in my pocket to take them out later in my room and unroll them. There was exotic Chinese writing on those papers! Right there in my little hands, dusty with New Mexico desert dirt.
And then there was the one last foray into the kitchen to see if there was, miraculously, any watermelon left.
I love the Fourth of July and I love why we celebrate America, The Very Beautiful Land of the Free! (May she always remain thus!) After 237 years of wear and tear, tragedy and triumph, I think she still looks great!