Wednesday, July 04, 2007

July 4th Memories

Somewhere in the linen closet at my parents' home, there is an old green and black flannel blanket. It has several holes in it, and I am sure the thing is quite musty. It is scratchy to the touch and I am sure there are still several burrs still clinging to its worn fibers. It is the last blanket on Earth that you would ever want to offer to a guest.

However, to me that blanket is special. I remember many a July 4th when our family would park along the street of a residential neighborhood and walk what must have been close to a quarter of a mile to find an empty spot on the grass of a local park. All of our arms would be full. Some of us would be carrying lawn chairs. Some of us would carry jackets for when the heat of the hot Texas sun finally dissipated and it got chilly. Someone would be dragging the old orange and white cooler along. Inside the cooler, there would be ice-cold lemonade, and cold fried chicken. My mother would always have brought along some salted popcorn (made on the stove, not the microwave back then), fruit, and some cookies.

That was our tradition. We'd lie on blankets, my brothers and I, straining our eyes against the dusky sky-- looking for the firemen setting up the fireworks. People around us would be waving sparklers.

Finally, you would hear it, the slight whistle of a rocket shooting up in the sky. You would try to guesstimate just how far up it would go, and then-- all of a sudden, bright lights filled the sky.

The green and black blanket was used to duck and cover when the loud cannon booms that rattled our young eardrums would go off. There were many holes poked through it by little fingers as we wanted to be under cover, but still able to see the night sky.

At the end of it all, the sky would be filled with smoke. There were several years when fireworks fell on a dried up cluster of trees and created quite an impressive blaze. After it all ended, we'd stagger back to the car, as suddenly the sleepiness and full-belly combo hit.

After we moved to Arizona, there still were firework shows, but it wasn't the same. By then, my older brother and I were well on our way to becoming miserable teens, and it just wasn't as magical.


Chris said...

Beautifully written, Kate. I felt like I was there. It reminded me of my childhood and the magic. Thanks!

Sarah said...

I hope my kids have memories as vivid as this. We walk to the local park but only right as the fireworks go off. I hope that brings good memories for them, though.

ru said...

I finally caught up on reading your posts. I like the one about the water, but not nearly as much as this one. The Fourth has been my second favorite for a long time, right after Easter. I love the flags and parades and fireworks. It stirs something deep within, deeper than patriotism, which has become an ill-mannered word I think.