As the 4th of July approaches I wonder where June went. And why it is that summer seems so fleeting and winter so very, very long.
In my childhood 4th of July meant a brown jug of root beer and a container full of dairy whirl from the local A&W for the making of root beer floats (my dad loved them), sparklers lit while we watched the fireworks from a perfect and uncrowded spot – the front steps and yard at our own house! We couldn’t see the “ground display” but knew it was taking place by all the honking of horns from the downtown area — we could hear them clearly and knew the light show was at an end. We enjoyed those smoky, ashy “snakes” that we lit on the driveway, the little strips of “snaps” that could be easily detonated with a rock, and other odds and ends of 4th of July fun and noise. Sparklers were my personal favorite. Especially the colored ones as opposed to the plain silver. We rarely went to town for the festivities, even though there were kiddie games and the ever-present roasting pig, our budget was saved for a day at the Flambeau Rama.
As a young mom I took my kids down to see what we could see by day and usually ended up at mom and dad’s place to watch the fireworks by night. When the kids got a little older, we’d park in a spot along Hwy. 13, sit in the bed of the truck to watch the exploding lights overhead and sometimes had bits of ash fall on us. If Rick wasn’t on night shift he’d be along for that, but rarely for the daytime activities since even small farmers must “make hay while the sun shines”. As the kids got older still, we were often all in the hayfield and the fireworks were the only part of the festivities we took in, much like what occurred during my childhood. In these latter years we are back to watching the fireworks from the bed of a truck, sometimes with the kids and grandkids, sometimes not.
There’s something about those light displays that can lift the spirits. The duds, the ones that just make such a loud noise one can feel it reverberate in the chest, are not so enjoyable. But the others, even if not terribly long lasting, are a thing of beauty. Able to transport us for just a moment. Shooting stars in green, purple or blue. A feast for the eyes.
Eyes. I’ve never seen war first hand, and I thank God for that. Images on the television screen or in movies are disturbing enough. This makes me think of my ancestors and so many others who have seen light shows that were not for fun or enjoyment or inherent beauty. Of those who have heard booms reverberating in their chests knowing death was nearby. In the grand scheme of things the United States is a rather young country, yet it’s seen a fair share of war, and while my bravery for that type of battle is limited, I applaud those who served.
I know of no ancestors of mine who fought in the Revolutionary War that brought a new country into being. And there probably aren’t any who existed since the only branch of the family tree on this piece of ground that early on were of a religious tradition that decried fighting in wars. The rest all came later. Most much, much later.
But we fly an American flag in our yard. We take pride in having photos about the house of those who served our country through time. On this July 4th, as on others, we might just be going about the business of our lives without attending a celebration, but in our hearts we honor those who, through the centuries, have defended our freedoms.
Maybe I’ll see ya at the fireworks. And maybe, just for old times sake, I’ll have a root beer float in hand.