Growing up in a small town on the central coast of California, I always thought of June through August as the foggy season. Technically, it is. Dry heat inland pulls cool air and clouds from out over the water onto the coast covering the shoreline with damp, grey fog for much of the summer. The only time I really minded so much was on the 4th of July. Hopeful for a clear night, my family would always pack snacks and hot cocoa and head down to the harbor to claim our prime fireworks viewing spot. Every other year (or so) we were disappointed. We could see each rocket shoot up, disappear into the clouds and then the fog would take on a pulsing green or red color for a few seconds, followed by a giant boom. Not all was lost, we still had our town parade and the chance that *this* year it would be clear enough to see every last sparkle.
What I could count on was that each 4th of July afternoon, as it was getting dark in Boston, the most amazing fireworks show over the Charles River was broadcast nationwide on A&E. Here the pyrotechnics were synched to a musical score and prior to the show there was always a lively orchestra performance of Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” complete with cannons. This seemed to be the ultimate in patriotic celebration. (Note: Looking to link to A&E, I notice they no longer show the broadcast. This makes me a little sad. And old.)
For the seven years I was in graduate school in Boston, I made it to the oversized celebration on the Esplanade three times. It was everything I had imagined it to be and more. I love my country, but I have never been the outspoken, “my country is the best”, flag-waving type. Clearly, as I am typing this on a quiet Sunday afternoon in Paris, I have yearned to live outside of our borders. However, I can say, without a doubt, that few things have warmed my heart more than standing as one among 1 million spectators, watching fire light up the sky and singing “America the Beautiful” in unison. I miss that today.
I know that I will get more than my fill of picnics and fireworks in 10 days (Bastille Day). And, I certainly am not missing (at all) the crush of humanity arriving on the river and, more so, leaving after the spectacle. However, for the sense of camaraderie and belonging (if just for one day) there are a few events that I miss by being here when I am just plain homesick, and (predictably) this is one of them. I hope you are all having a wonderful (and safe) holiday full of family, friends, food and fireworks. Enjoy and light a sparkler for me!