Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Small Town Fourths

I am surrounded by small town Fourths of July ... (Fourth of Julys?) By parades, fireworks, heat and holiday America.

In my closest little town, along with the taco trucks and BBQ, we got jello-mold-and-potato-chip family picnics. We got gatherings of convivial folding canvas chairs with drink holders, the drink holders being occupied by beer cans or red plastic cups of Mountain Dew.

The police force is out, crisscrossing the crowd in an earnest way. Midsized kids run around yelling. Every once in a while, in the middle distance, somebody sets off a firecracker.

There are flags. Flags on street poles of the parade route. People carrying flags. People wearing them. Flags on cars.

The other nearby town, next town over, used to be a whistle stop on the railway. It is become somewhat a suburb for the closest tiny city. Here, twenties and thirties folks sit in the same canvas chairs. There are fewer kids in the crowd, all of them dressed in natural fibers. Dogs wearing red kerchiefs round the neck, meet and greet friends from the dog park and are decorous.

Folks take out fresh peaches and sandwiches made with whole meal bread and thermoses of kombucha. Some of the men doff their shirts to bask in the sun. 

I don’t watch the fireworks in either town. At dark I go out to my back porch and sit on one of my Adirondack chairs – made of the finest plastic – and look down the valley where folks are putting on their own fireworks displays.

In the past these have been small affairs. I can see – oh – a dozen of them. Little, bright shows that must be set off in some farmer’s field.  They’ll let off twenty or so, and then further up the valley somebody else will take it up.
I imagine everybody knows who’s doing what. I like to think of the teenage boy of the family running out to light a fuse and getting out of the way fast.
“That’ll show ‘em,” Mom says in satisfaction. “A retrocentral flower spray. Better than the Joneses had last year.”
“Yup,” says Dad.

This year, right below me, something rather more was going on. Big complex fireworks. Professional stuff. It probably lasted close to an hour. And I could hear a crowd ooohing and aaahing.

I’ll have to ask at the Post Office who put that one on. 

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