I just finished shucking corn on the back porch. The ribs for dinner are on the grill. The smell penetrates the neighborhood. It smells like home. Like my Dad’s cooking.
I can hear thunder rolling in the distance as a small storm moves this way. There is hope it will cool off this hot sticky day.
Fat drops of rain pinging on the roof and off the gutters. Easy rolling thunder.
Summer on the small back porch.
A child, once terrified of the smallest of storms, sits. Watching. Waiting. Quietly.
It could be any day, but it’s the Fourth of July.
A small town, middle-America, Forth of July.
Earlier in the day there was a neighborhood bike parade.
Hot. Sweaty. Dirty. Happy children filled with laughter. They are hungry, but they keep on playing outside in the July heat. Four year olds and thirteen year olds, playing.
It reminds me of my childhood. Celebrations in America without politics. Divisions. Anger. Hurt.
Sure it was there. Behind the scenes. But it didn’t dominate. Take over. Ruin. Sadden.
We took our kids to the retirement home to lead a patriotic sing-along with the residents. Songs of my childhood. Songs I know by heart, but now need to teach to my children. I have forgotten to teach them these songs. There are more songs I need to teach them.
Six to ninety-something years old. All singing.
Back at home after the evening meal of ribs, freshly shucked local corn, baked beans, lemonade and a cheese cream pie to come, we head outside to light fireworks that don’t leave the ground. Only smoke in different colors.
The same girl terrified of storms, holds a small sparkler for the first time in years. Fears turn softer, slowly turing into joy.
“Can I have another?”
“I’ll hold two this time.”
Fear slowly turns to … freedom.
Freedom to be a child.
To play all day outside.
To not be scared.
To be adventurous.
Freedom to be a child on the fourth, and every other day.