Wednesday, May 20, 2009
The 4th of July after...
On July 4 1976 Boston had a big celebration. And then suddenly we found ourselves again on July 4, but a year later.
On July 4 1976 we had thought we'd take the kids into Boston to join the crowds and wish our country a happy 200th birthday. We had thought to hop on the MTA and let the subway drop us off at Park or Boylston and walk the rest of the way to the Harvard bridge, whence we could watch the fireworks that were discharged out over the Charles River.
But Kay Ferguson's son David had gone in ahead of us and found a pay phone and called and warned us off. He said that there were several million people squeezed between the highways leading to Boston and Boston Harbor, and while everyone was behaving it would be way too easy for a small child to get separated or maybe even trampled. And we had three to watch out for.
So we had stayed home. We had local fireworks to enjoy, and we were ok about it.
And now a year later we decided to have some friends from MIT over to enjoy a store-bought watermelon filled with berries, peaches and more melon. And we decided to include homemade ice cream. Made with store-bought milk and cream.
The day was of course hot and sticky as 4ths of July always are, and we hung out in the coolest room of the house and talked. We were the only ones with kids, so the comings and goings of small humans were met with puzzlement, which amused me because it seemed so normal to me.
After the watermelon gave out, we worked on the ice cream. It wouldn't freeze. A half dozen chemists sat around trying to get the mix to harden, and nothing happened. Then someone remembered the salt, and we were soon divvying up the lovely slurry and covering the servings with strawberries. Very yummy, but too soon gone!
Everyone went in different directions before dark, and we had chores to do and never did make it to the fireworks.
We enjoyed the fireflies instead, which flashed in syncopation with distant booms, whether heat lightning or fireworks we never knew.
With the 4th behind us, we were in the full intensity of summer. We dreaded the exuberant and abundant flies by day and the clouds of mosquitoes by night, but otherwise we enjoyed our existence: the freshest possible, purest possible, food from the garden, cold hours-old milk from the ladies in the barn, and the companionship of each other without the stress of meeting any schedule but milking and chores.
It was tranquil. Until mid-month, when peace went away never to return in quite the same way again.