We spent a quiet Fourth of July, L and I. I woke up feeling out of sorts. I missed the kids. I wanted the grandkids. Holidays are just not the same without the loud, rambling commotion that accompanies family. (L may take exception to that, however...) And especially July 4th. That day in particular just begs for large party BBQs, swimming in pools, and getting little ones shoes on - maybe a light sweater - to go watch fireworks.
I texted each one of the kids and wished them a happy 4th. Asked what they were doing. They were all having fun, going to pancake breakfasts, swimming, the beach, fireworks shows in their communities. Scott actually called me, and we had a fun little chat over the phone. Cheered me right up. Made me look at the day and decide that maybe it would be fun after all - even if it was just L and me on our own.
Our community has a nice sports park where the city puts on a free fireworks show every year, complete with music. And it's really really good. It's always packed with people - small children, dogs, picnic food. Some people come and stay the whole day, and some just come for the fireworks. We've spent many years with the kids and a couple with grandkids sitting at that park watching fireworks. I wasn't sure about how it would feel to go, just the two of us.
L and I had sort of a lazy day getting a few things done. We went to the store and bought some rib eye steaks to barbeque, and we had some corn on the cob and watermelon. A couple of days ago we'd gone to Cost Plus World Market, and they had bags of applewood chips to use in the BBQ to smoke your meat. We'd never done that before (we are not accomplished BBQ-ers) and we wanted to give it a try. So we soaked the wood chips, and when the coals were all ready, we added the wood. On went the meat, and it began to smoke furiously. So furiously we had to shut the sliding door leading out to the patio. But it was all worth it. Those steaks were AWESOME. I highly recommend the smoking technique. I know - you've probably all tried it and we're the last to know. But just in case you haven't - try it.
We finished dinner, and L said "Let's go to the park." I'd wanted to go, but without the kids it seemed like it wouldn't be as much fun - but suddenly I felt like... what the heck, right? So we did. We grabbed our jackets, a couple of chairs, and off we went. We found our spot at the park, set up our chairs, and batted away all the little bugs flying through the air. Watched kids getting all wound up waiting for the show to start, and yet tired from the long day behind them. Families, large and small. Some were just couples, like us. At about 9:00 it started. And it was loud, and bright, and totally awesome.
After it was over, we made the trek back to the car, successfully avoiding the traffic jams and crowds pouring out of the park. And when we got home, one more treat. L fired up a few more coals, and we sat on the patio until about 11:00, toasting marshmallows and eating s'mores.
You know, those toasty melty marshmallows you've just toasted over the coals smashed between 2 graham crackers with a piece of chocolate? Yeah... that's the stuff... We sat there toasting, and eating, and talking, and it was just about the best time ever. Even the crazy June bugs gave us a break that night, and went to bed early.
It wasn't quite the idyllic July 4th of my childhood - or even my childrens' childhoods. You know where at least one kid steps on a hot sparkler with their bare feet, pinwheel fireworks nailed to a tree somehow work loose and chase you all over the yard in a crazy haze of smoke, sparks and furiously spinning colors. Black snakes making an inky mess on your sidewalk. Kids brown from the sun with eyes red from swimming all afternoon and smelling of chlorine. Neighbors pooling all of their fireworks together into a mass display. Older boys (or girls) getting a chance to light a fountain cone, or lighting the sparklers for the younger ones. Writing your name, or making patterns in the dark with sparkler after sparkler, until at least they've all been lit. Those are fond memories. For many city folk these days (and especially in California where we are nothing if not environmentally safe and sound) those neighborhood fireworks shows are a thing of the past. Firworks sales are banned in many cities. We go to community sponsored shows and sit with our friends and neighbors and strangers, enjoying the booms and explosion of lights in the sky. It was still good, but I miss how it used to be.
But L and I still enjoyed our s'mores in our own back yard. We felt like we were camping out as we looked out over the city below and beyond, and watched rebel fireworks being shot up in random neighborhoods here and there. In the distance, Disneyland's fireworks could be heard and seen. And in the spirit of American rebels and patriots past and present, we lit our own little sparklers, and wrote our names and patterns in the dark.