It's America's 238th birthday and I feel excited! Well, maybe not excited enough to justify the exclamation point at the end of the previous sentence, but a pleasant, anticipatory sensation nonetheless. Don't ask me why. July 4th used to excite me because it meant a holiday from work, but now that I'm retired, every day is a holiday, so that's not the reason.
We aren't celebrating with a festive cookout, though tonight I will cook oven-barbecued sausage links and serve them with store-bought potato salad, slices of the single home-grown tomato remaining from those my younger daughter brought us from her garden, and maybe we'll finally eat that corn on the cob that's been in the door of the freezer for god knows how long. That all sounds holiday appropriate, doesn't it?
What I'm feeling might just be residual excitement from childhood. The 4th of July felt like a really big deal in the '40s and early '50s, though the truth is our family celebrations weren't elaborate even then. We usually had a watermelon, which made the day special, and we must have had some kind of picnic food, or else why would I think the occasion calls for potato salad and corn on the cob?
I'm not excited about fireworks. Fireworks displays are nice to see, but my enthusiasm for them has diminished in inverse proportion to the number of dogs I've had who've been frightened by them. When I was a kid, we lived in town. We couldn't have Roman candles or any other kind of "bombs bursting in air." We did have small firecrackers that the grownups would light. Sometimes there'd be a few cherry bombs we could throw hard against the sidewalk, and we could count on having sparklers year after year. I was always afraid of sparklers. (Whose brilliant idea was it to put fire on conductive metal wires and hand them out to children?) I gritted my teeth and waved them around anyway, because my little sister wasn't afraid and I needed to be as brave as she was.
My favorite firework back then (if one can call it a firework) was made of some type of gray-colored material that had been compressed into the shape of a sitting dog no taller than the diameter of a half-dollar coin. A lighted match held briefly to the dog's rear end would cause a long, continuous string of black ash to shoot out of its butt, a sight that cracked me up no matter how many times I saw it. Now that I live with four real canines, dog poop doesn't seem so funny anymore. Although dogs do look funny when they do it.
Whatever. I can't really explain the source of my mild excitement, but it's Independence Day in the US of A, and maybe that's reason enough.