Happy Fourth of July!


Growing up in Washington DC, it was easy to really celebrate the Fourth of July. I remember seeing the free concert at the US Capitol lawn (really, we would watch the rehearsal the night before, for fewer crowds and a hint of behind-the-scenes action.) In my teen years, my friends and I attached ourselves to her brother's crowd, who scoped out a very good viewing spot for the fireworks on the National Mall. Someone came early in the morning, a keg of beer came at some point later in the day. We arrived at dusk with the masses, too afraid to sneak a beer from the keg, which once had a strange girl with her arms and legs wrapped around it in an attempt to cool down. 

My point is Fourth of July was hot in Washington, DC. And Fourth of July is hot in Madison and really anywhere I've ever been on the Fourth. This year, I thought we might get a cooler fourth because spring came so late, but no. We've entered the kind of heat that sends the man of our house out to save the plants and back in to declare that it must be 95 (or 100) degrees outside and wipe his forehead with a paper towel.

Nowadays, we mostly spend the holiday in Virginia, where my parents have a lake house. The man of that house will usually seek out the heat, sitting on the porch with a book and a hat big enough that its hard to tell whether he's reading or napping. The New Jersey contingent of the family swoops in via mini-van, scooping up fireworks that are outlawed up north as we near the house.  We usually have our own display of fireworks, lit on the bulkhead. The show lasts until we can stand no further mosquito attacks, and the dark has brought bugs that whizz by our ears with the deep, loud buzz of something too large and ugly to stay near. We head inside and watch the events back in DC in the best way: gathered around the television in the glacially cold basement of the house. 

This year, we won't get down to the lake until later in the summer, so things will be different. We could go to the Florham Park parade and Picnic, which is lovely but soooooooo hot. I think one of my kids once got burned on the bouncy houses many moons ago. Besides, we're too big for that. At the shore, where my in-laws will be, there's a parade you can actually be in, if you decorate your wagon. But when we did that a few years back, the heat was volcanic. I consider the Macy's Fireworks to be like watching the ball drop in NYC: you'd have to be drunk to enjoy. 

I think we'll do our Jersey-lite fireworks, and then I'll find the spot in my living room closest to the air conditioning vent that we call "The refrigerator," I'll tune into the coverage of in DC and put my mom and dad on speakerphone.