There will be pictures tomorrow, I promise. They will show friends celebrating the 4th in good old fashion with tents, hot dogs, potato salad and fire crackers. Twelve adults and just as many kids made for a merry camp site - only four families braved our traditionally wet 4th for camping, the other two of us decided our beds were great places to be after watching the fire works. Despite the almost constant rain of the afternoon and evening we had a marvelous time - probably one of my favorite 4ths to date.
You would think growing up in a military background the 4th of July would be done up in high fashion, but having spent most of our 4ths in the DC area meant that we joined the throngs by the Carillon near the Iwo Jima monument in Arlington as a family. While those outings almost always turned in to a party with the strangers around us, those nameless friends you always find at an event like that, they were never large nor planned. What I remember most is the rain. I don't have very many memories of 4th of July in DC without it. Usually, you just hope the rain isn't too much and that the wind blows the cloud of smoke that can sit directly in front of the Washington Monument hiding the fireworks you came to see in their haze. Whatever you do, you don't give up your hard won patch of grass where tents and chairs of any kind are frowned upon.
If it wasn't the rain, it was the heat. That oppressive Washington heat that starts outside of you and pushes its way in until the only thing you can do is sit and wait until you can get in the car feel that first shock of cold as the air conditioner finally switches on. Even pouring ice water on your head makes things hotter on those days. Its the second "H" of the three "H's" that oppress Washington in the summer that turns ice water into steam thereby creating more of that third and dreaded "H" - humidity.
But this year, even the rain made for perfect weather. Buckets of it at times, yes, but no thunder - no lightening so all was safe. And when that warning shot came, the one that hints of more noise and lights to come, we trooped down to the lake - all 24 of us - and spread out on blankets and sheets for what was arguably the best seating in the house. It was as if a private show was being set off for us and with each new light we also saw a piece of Mother Nature react. Geese trying to find a way off what they must have felt was a cursed lake, a lone duck trying to reunite with his friends, a bat eating all the mosquitoes around us and the largest frog ANY of us had ever seen. What was the frog doing? Hanging back with us watching fire works and listening to Pearl Jam...smart frog!
I could tell you how Sammy was not a fan of the noise, but several of the kids were in the same boat, or how I am still awake and I know I will pay for everything over the next few days but right now I just want to marvel in the joy of today.
There were 24 of us celebrating our basic rights to be free in almost every way, and remembering in our own way those who have made it so.
Thank you to all who have served and do serve. We may not all agree with the why, but we know the how is a sacrifice and thank you for your gift.