July 5th, 2007

head shot

Ain't She a La-La

The 4th of July ain't much if you can't get out-of-doors. 
Let's face it -- Independence Day is a fair-weather holiday.

So we were understandablly out-of-sorts this morning when the Texas deluge continued. 
Parade -- cancelled. Picnic -- cancelled. Fireworks -- on the chopping block. 
Nevermind the crepe papered bicycles and Betsy Ross hats. The holiday was devolving before our very eyes.

"We could bowl," I suggested.
"Or see a matinee," said my husband.

"Not very 4th-of-Julyish," said the girls. And then they cried.  
It was gonna be a long day.  

When I was little, growing up in the mountains, I think it might've been the ski patrolmen who shot off the fireworks, from up on Golden Peak. We spread out on blankets on our backs and reveled in the sight -- just like millions of other folk all over the country. When a firework sputtered or shot off too low, we'd shout, "Are you still there, Poopsie?!" in high hopes that nobody'd burned their eyebrows or blackened their fingertips. But when there was a particularly magnificent colored star or weeping willow or cascading candle, we'd call out, "Ain't she a la la!!" loudly and quickly, like it was all one word.

Later, when we moved to the midwest, we celebrated the 4th in my grandparents' garden -- the same place my husband and I would marry a few years down the road. The fare of the day was grilled chicken and root beer -- a whole keg of the stuff -- and we had a helium tank so we could send balloons off and bet on where they'd land. Sometime, that week or months later, my grandmother would get a postcard in the mail -- from Rhinelander, Wisconsin, or somewhere in the U.P. of Michigan, saying our balloon had been found.

So yesterday, I was ready to make something happen. This was meant to be a holiday of pure pleasure and gratitude, afterall, and we were not going to spend our every waking hour on Lego and laundry. We have windshield wipers -- we can make it to a fireworks stand just outside of town to buy our body weight in colored sparklers. We can invite two other little ones over for a red-white-and-blue craft, a  treasure hunt, and a snack of hot dogs and watermelon. And how about some of those sparklers? It's not dark but it's not like the sun's out.

But then it was! The skies opened up. In a good way. We made our way to Zilker Park to watch the fireworks over Austin while the symphony played The 1812 Overture accompanied by real cannon fire, among other things. The whole city was out, emerging after weeks of rain to celebrate the pitch-perfect night. And my daughters next to me yelled, "Aint she a la la!" over and over again.