Where I live in Vermont, July 4th marks the beginning of summer – a short and wonderful season here. Visitors from down-country arrive for the month; the lucky ones for the entire, short summer. The holiday is celebrated with enthusiasm and a healthy dose of local color in just about every village and town. This year, the holiday falls in the middle of the week so festivities span multiple days. Of course, every celebration must have a parade. Some are elaborate but most feature antique tractors, fire trucks, local celebrities, animals, decorated bicycles and, or course, some sort of music. With a fair share of artists scattered throughout the state, floats and decorations can be quite fantastic.
Personally, I love to celebrate. Give me just about any reason and I shift gears into my happy space. As a single parent, I had made a big deal out of anything that could be dubbed an event. My children are grown, both have their own lives to live and one has her own family. My husband hates celebrations and often works on holidays. But I persist.
Tonight, for example, it is growing dark. I worked today but met my friend for an evening ride. What better way to usher in a holiday. It just so happened that our starting point coincided with the parking lot for local parade participants. Parking next to us was a piper dressed in his kilt with bagpipes in hand. An avid cyclist, he joined in our conversation comparing notes on our favorite centuries.
Along our route, cars heading into town to watch the festivities were more polite than usual and drivers called out greetings. On our return we literally got caught up in the parade itself and felt our spirits lift in keeping with the occasion. Friends waved and we even picked up a few cyclists along the way.
Now at home I am waiting for the full moon to rise. As soon as it grows dark, I will be able to watch spectacular fireworks just across a ravine from my house – several miles by road but probably only ½ mile as the crow flies. At the first sizzle and pop I will run to get my dogs and a blanket. I will sit on my hillside. Strangely enough, my two little Jack Russells love the show. They sit in my lap and think we’re having a picnic.
I am celebrating. I am celebrating the wonder of being an American. I am celebrating my right to pursue happiness as I choose. I am celebrating my family and friends. I am celebrating the privilege of having a sport that I am dedicated to, one that challenges me and brings me such pleasure all at the same time. I am celebrating the beauty of my state. I am celebrating fitness and health. I am celebrating the freedoms that I lavishly enjoy and thank those who fight tirelessly to preserve them.
May you have a Happy Fourth and may you find many reasons to celebrate this summer and always.