(Green Magnolia seed pods. They will soon be covered with bright red seeds as they start to dry. The squirrels and birds will eat very well. Just a picture I took today that doesn't really relate to this post in any way.)
This 4th of July was rather uneventful for me here on the marsh. We (my boyfriend and I) stayed in, which was more than fine with me. I took a moment to acknowledge the significance of this day...independence and the 'Declaration' thereof. It's one of the main holidays where Americans actually acknowledge the proper origins of the day. Several of the other holidays have been taken over by commercialism and organized religion when in fact the days in question grew out of paganism...but that's a whole other subject for another time.
I did venture out of doors, albeit briefly. I was in the mood to be a slug, and stayed in my "Jammie Pants" most of the day. My two short trips into the outside world (one on the screened in porch, and one out the front) brought the festive scents of charring meat barbecuing away as neighbors worked their magic over burning coals and redolent smoke. I felt a tad jealous as we still haven't gotten a grill. I love grilled meats. Barbecued pork chops especially.
My trip out to the front was brought on by the cracking bangs of fireworks exploding nearby. By the sound, I could clearly tell that they were of the smaller 'neighbor purchased' variety. Firecrackers, roman candles, bottle rockets, and some smaller fireworks that would pop into brilliant flowers of sparks. I managed to catch the last few that were lit by neighbors in a building that backs up against the marsh. They set them off over on the marsh side. How pretty that must have been. Unfortunately, my camera and I missed the display. There were some air born explosions that didn't sound too far off, but as soon as I noticed them, their frequency began to taper off. I engaged in a quick debate with myself about whether or not to hop in the car to go in search of. The pops and bangs were having lengthier pockets of silence between them. It reminded me of a thunderstorm where the periods of silence between claps can tell you how near or far a storm is. This storm would have been moving away. Needless to say, I decided to pass on going on a fireworks hunt.
Since the passing of my mother last year and my reconnecting with my uncle (my mother's brother), and my aunt (my uncle's wife), I have been going through some old pictures that my mother had, as well as a bunch I have but haven't looked through in some time. The smells of cooking barbecue, the sound of exploding fireworks, and those pictures, made me think of my grandparents and the summers I spent at their house during my younger years.
(My brother, Mike, and me ~ I was 2 and he was 5)
My mother's parents, Doris and Harry, lived in a house high up on a bluff overlooking the Cumberland River in Nashville. They had a flagstone patio that had a beautiful view of the far bank. It was also a great vantage point for watching the various boats and barges go by, along with a big ferry boat that would pull up at the boat ramps on either bank. The railing that went around the edge of the patio was really on the edge. It was a rugged but sheer drop down to the water. If someone fell they might get caught on one of the many trees covering the bluffs face, but it was a long way down and I definitely didn't want to check to find out. I didn't like to spend much time right next to that railing.
The main memories the 4th put me in mind of were those summer days when my grandfather would barbecue. He would get out his trusty round grill and get the briquettes blazing. I can see him now with the t-shirt he was wearing wadded up and stuck in his back shorts pocket because of the heat (just like he did when he was mowing the yard), spraying any intense flame-ups with a squirt bottle of water. My grandmother would always make dishes from her usual list of picnic table fare: potato salad, three bean salad and/or barbecued baked beans, deviled eggs...it was all delicious. I make her potato salad recipe from time to time and it always reminds me of her. I remember many summers eating sweet and juicy slabs of watermelon, juice running down my chin as my brother and I would spit an occasional seed at one another. (kids...) Some of my earlier days would involve hours of my own brand of creative cookery making dirt pies at the top end of the yard with the toy dishes my grandmother had on hand. I had so much fun with that. I remember evenings spent sitting on the back porch talking, shooting at empty cans with the hand pump BB gun my grandfather had, or just listening to the haunting 'toot toooooooooot' of the train at Opryland down the river. If my brother and I were making a trip up from Atlanta with our mother, from time to time we would stop at one of the fireworks stores and get a few things to bring to the house with us. (Firework sales are legal in Tennessee.) I wasn't very fond of the loud stuff when I was little, but I would find no end to the fun of writing my name in the air with a sparkler, or watching long black and twisting shapes form from the small black 'snake' tabs.
I can remember sitting with Harry and Doris while they had 'Happy Hour' and I had a glass of Wink on the rocks, listening to them tell stories of days past. (If you aren't familiar with Wink, think a cross between Fresca and Ginger Ale...great stuff.) Even now I can envision that evening darkened porch, hear my grandmother laugh, and give my grandfather a playful chide of "Harry !" There was a lot of laughter in that house. There weren't a lot of kids in the neighborhood, but I didn't mind. It was a great place to spend time while growing up, as depicted in the photos above. That metal tub with Disney characters on it is very vivid in my memory. So are the memories of filling it with water to cool off.
It's interesting how sounds or scents can spark things we tucked away in our subconscious in the 'forgotten' file(s). There are so many things that get dredged up upon occasion that I am so thankful for. They are like finding an old item I forgot I had ever even owned, but now that I found it I won't ever misplace it again.