Current Location: Rocky Point Oregon 88F and clear with a predicted high of 95F
I got an email this morning from friend Jeanne telling me all about her great weekend on the lake in Vermont, shared with family and friends and her sweetheart. I don’t know what it is about this holiday that triggers such summertime nostalgia, but I love it. Loved reading about Jeanne’s adventures and loved remembering the holidays of my childhood as well as the more recent family times we have managed to share.
At the moment, I am at the computer in my home office, windows wide open, breezes cooling the house from the morning banana bread bake, and sunlight lighting up the elm leaves under the forest canopy. The elms were supposed to be a hedge, purchased a dozen years ago by Mo from a mail order catalog. Some are still hedge size, but most of the row have morphed into tall if rangy trees, reaching for the tiny bit of available sun. They are home to lots of birds and bugs this time of year, and make a great backdrop for gazing out the window instead of focusing on the task at hand.
Sorry to say, it certainly isn’t patriotism, although I do like flying the American flags on this day. I love my country, but am not rabidly patriotic, celebrating the Fourth as the birth of my country. I celebrate the Fourth as a reminder of family tradition.
As a kid we got up before dawn and foster mom Dorothy would pack up all the fixings to make biscuits in the coleman camp ovens on half a dozen coleman stoves. We made biscuits for the entire church picnic gathering at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia. There was a “plunge” for swimming, baseball diamonds for one up softball games, lots of grass for sack races. We had a huge breakfast, and usually there were more than 150 people from the church that participated in the day’s activities.
Bocci Ball at Rocky Point
By evening, after the hot dogs and potato salad, we gathered up our blankets and found a spot on the grass to watch the fireworks, shot high above the park. There were sparklers and smoke bombs and of course those amazing fountains that everyone loved. There was the smell of sulfur and the fear of stepping on a hot sparkler wire among the blankets. In California in July, the days were always hot and the nights were warm. The fireworks were spectacular.
Arcadia Regional Park in 2014
I searched the internet to find that the park is now the Arcadia Community Regional Park, administered by the county of Los Angeles, and nary a word about a fireworks display on the Fourth of July. Some great memories are destined to fade into the past, much like the old Firefall at Yosemite. Not many remember what that was like either, but I do, and treasure that memory as well.
Now we make new memories. Most of the time, in July, we are close enough to Rocky Point to gather at least part of the family for a celebration. Potato salad is always part of it, but I no longer force my kids to do sack races. Sometimes we don’t even bother to go to the fireworks, even though there are displays in Klamath Falls at Veteran’s Park and just 15 minutes away at Lake of the Woods.
Traffic, crowds, mosquitoes, midges, all have a bit of a dampening affect on our best laid plans. Instead, we stayed right here and played bocci ball into the dark of night. No fireworks here at Rocky Point. Not a one at our place. Even though we are on the edge of the national forest, where fireworks are illegal, the drought knows no boundaries and there is no need to take chances with fire and explosive stuff.
Instead, we listened to distant neighbors shooting either guns or firecrackers or both. Maybe next year we will actually get a reservation at Lake of the Woods and go camping 15 minutes from home so we can watch the fireworks and not have to drive anywhere when they are finished.
Daughter Deb came up from Grants Pass, and daughter Melody and my grandkids came out from Klamath. We ate lots of summer fruit and veggies, with sinful dips to offset the healthy stuff, and Deb shared her Dijon marinated chicken with all of us. Melody came with three, yes three watermelons and we did manage to eat two of them.
I made brownies that were perfect and my favorite potato salad that wasn’t so much. I learned that if you put too much celery and onion into it, the dressing gets watery as it sits. Can’t believe I didn’t know that, and also am amazed at the world we live in where I can type in “watery potato salad’ and get answers in seconds.
Our closest neighbors, Wes and Gayle, are here for the season, and we were delighted to have them join us for supper and lawn games.
We got out on the lake twice, a nice long paddle up Recreation Creek toward Malone Spring in the afternoon wind and then the next morning another beautiful paddle on the glassy bay toward the main lake. Midges are just beginning to hatch, the lake is just beginning to show an algae bloom so it was great to get out there before the season progressed further.
Paddling out on the main Klamath Lake from Pelican Bay. That is daughter Deborah out there.
We punctuated the day with a few silly old movies that I converted from ancient VHS to DVD. It was a happy sadness as we laughed at my deceased husband Lance making silly jokes and watched my iconic grandmother, also deceased, being her famous self. Melody made sure the grandkids watched, since they have no memory of this matriarch of our family.
Of course, there was a “flower walk”, another tradition that has followed us through many homes in many places since I started gardening in earnest back in the late 70’s. Gotta share all that is blooming, all the successes and some of the failures. I think the grandkids disappeared into the cabin before the flower walk, checking out facebook and phone messages. Some things stay the same and others definitely don’t.
Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and the Fourth of July. And oh yes, don’t forget Halloween. Somehow these days have come to mean far more than what they stand for in our family. They are the times that we all do our best to get together and participate in some of the old family rituals that have come down through the years. Our family is small, it is me and my kids and their offspring. I do hope that the grandkids will remember some of the times that we have shared in the same way that I remember Fourth of July at Arcadia Park.