Thursday, July 05, 2007
Surrounded by pyromaniac patriots!
In spite of my morning ruminations on the slow collapse of democracy in America, we had a nice Fourth! I did go and buy a wading pool, and I love it, and while I was at it I bought a bunch of squirt guns and some bubbles (I almost got a slip 'n slide -- I loved those when I was a kid!). My parents and my niece Izzy (she is trying in vain to change her name to "Bella" but we're having none of it) and Penny, a family friend, came over for food and fireworks. Unlike in California, in Oregon it seems that any and every explosive thing is perfectly legal, and I must say, it's the one holiday of the year that our neighborhood really comes alive. Halloween? Nah -- smart kids skedaddle to finer, better-lit streets. Christmas? Ehh. A few straggling strings of lights go up hither and thither. Easter? Not so much on the bunny's route, I guess. But this neighborhood is either extremely patriotic or folks around here really really like to play with fire. Up and down the streets in all directions bottle rockets and smoke bombs and big, fancy professional-looking fireworks are shot up into the sky, blooms of red and blue sparks, a constant din and clatter of snaps and low house-shaking bass booms, and shrill whistles punctuated with dozens of pops in a long boisterous string and . . . you get the idea. Smoke drifting in the air, the acrid scent of explosives. Wheeee! Behold:
We've always cursed it all, shaken our fists while the trembling dogs tried to climb under our legs, but this year it was kind of fun. And of course, there was the squirt gun war waged between Jim and Izzy:
And, the berry tart:
And corn and burgers and white wine. A lovely day, all in all. Not to get lecturey and grumbly like I was yesterday, but it's been too long since I've studied US history, and I keep meaning to read some newer books than whatever George-Washington-chopping-down-the-cherry-tree stuff I learned 25 years ago. When I think about men like James Madison and Alexander Hamilton who came together in Virginia in 1787 to frame a Constitution that would last into "remote futurity," men who thought up our system from scratch, men like John Adams who could have snatched up the glory of writing the Declaration of Independence but deferred it to Jefferson, a rival who he believed was a better writer than he; Adams who begged virtually door to door in Europe for diplomatic recognition of the United States, and for the money we needed to win the Revolutionary War (and without whose door-knocking we would not have won it), and who went to great lengths (and great personal cost to his political career and his legacy) to keep us out of the French and British War when he was president. . . and much later, men like JFK who likewise went to extraordinary lengths to keep us out of war. . . (click link for Time article)
When I think of great men like these, it's almost like their stories are fiction cooked up by imaginative authors. In light of today's leadership, it's hard to believe they were real. I really really want to believe that great men are not extinct. It seems like a fairy tale to hope that our next president could be a great man of the caliber of these other great men, but it could happen, couldn't it? There can still be great men and women who will make this country and this world better, right? That's my Fifth of July hope. (That, and for a good writing day today. Come on, fingers. Tally ho!)
Posted by Laini Taylor at 1:30 PM