Around here, the “4th of July” happened on Sunday, July 2nd. It was a most perfect day here in the Hinterlands. Hot but not humid at all, and an absolutely clear, cloudless sky all day long and well into the night.
The fireworks took place in the park at the end of my street, and as it turned out, I had a completely unhindered view of each & every firework just by standing at the end of the driveway. It was absolutely awesome. Not just because I had such a clear view, but also because it was effortless.
Living in New York City, you had to contend with, literally, millions of people if you wanted to get even a glimpse of the fireworks. For me, someone raised on smaller-town fireworks displays of the 1960s & 70s, where perhaps dozens of people showed up, but never millions, dealing with the Independence Day hordes in NYC got old fast. So I stopped going. But I really missed those long-ago 4th of July summers that seemed to have disappeared from our national landscape entirely. It has now become all about fireworks displays that are “bigger,” more “spectacular,” more expensive and thus in need of luring, yes, millions of people in order to make it worth the expense. It seems that the 4th of July is now all about overwhelming people.
I don’t need to be overwhelmed. I get up in the morning, and then simply discovering that I’m still alive is overwhelming enough, thank you.
However, here in the Hinterlands, it turns out that life is perfect.
This past “4th of July” was probably my most favorite July 4th ever, even though it was July 2nd. Around 8 PM, I took a beer with me out to the back patio and sat and watched the sun inch ever downward across the sky. All the neighbors were out in their own backyards; having cookouts, sitting around fire-pits, playing with their dogs, lighting sparklers, playing volleyball. The fireflies came out in abundance, along with the stars, and it was just like a 4th of July from yesteryear! I wasn’t thrilled about being alone, but other than that, it could not have been more perfect.
Then, when the signal came that the fireworks were ready to begin, all I had to do was walk to the end of the driveway to see all the lights exploding in the sky.
And all the other neighbors were standing at the ends of their own driveways; dark shapes, silhouetted against a sparkling sky. No crime to contend with; no litter, no noisy people, no millions of strangers jostling you for a better position, a better glimpse of a tiny slice of sky; no stress about wondering how long it’s going to take you to get home from there once everything is over. In fact, it was utter silence all along the street, as everyone stared up at the sky, each lost in his or her own splendid wonderment for half an hour.
And to top it off, we could even hear the music from the park; eternal 4th of July treasures like “76 Trombones,” and “America the Beautiful.”
I realize that many, many people seek far and wide to get away from all that is “Old Town America,” but I actually love it. And nowadays it’s “globalized;” everyone’s on the Internet, glued to smartphones; aware of what’s going on in the world; and also, most importantly to me, into all kinds of organic, non-GMO living. For me, it’s the best of all worlds; rolled into peace and quiet and remote living.
Then, as if it couldn’t get any more “Old Town America,” last night I went to the local summer stock theater and saw South Pacific!! Yay! I love that musical. Not only the anti-racism message of it, but the songs are so memorable and, in my opinion, so lovely.
The production was very well done, some really gifted voices in the cast. But try as I did to stay present and appreciative of what was happening in the moment in front of me, I couldn’t help wondering what it must have felt like, 70 or so years ago, when those first unsuspecting audiences saw South Pacific on Broadway for the first time, ever. With Mary Martin, no less. In the flesh. It must have truly blown people away.
Yes, as always; I was dying to live in the past! (That’s an interesting mixed-metaphor, isn’t it?) All right!!
Thanks for visiting on this rainy Thursday afternoon. I leave you with this really lovely, lovely song. (Unfortunately, I sang it a lot to Fluffy while she was dying last summer from cancer. Now the song pretty much breaks my heart, but such is life. And on we go.)
See ya, gang!