Thursday, July 05, 2007

Fourth of July memories

My favorite moment this Fourth of July was waking up from a short nap on the couch in my parent’s TV room and looking up to see it was the top of the fifth inning in the Cubs-Nationals game. Baseball, family, a lazy summer afternoon, the tiger lilies in bloom, a cold bottle of beer at my side. Ahhhh….
On the long hikes, huffing it up to an 11,000 foot pass, boulder-hopping, exerting every ounce of energy to make it to yet another wind-swept vista, my soul, crying out in exhaustion and release, would imagine such a moment as I experienced yesterday. My dreams of comfort involve a baseball game and/or a backyard swimming pool and one of those inflatable recliners with a drink holder in the arm rest. To just float… at complete rest… hearkening back to first amniotic consciousness.
Back to reality, the Cubs lost 6-0, but they’re still a game over .500 and have the best record in baseball over the last month.
I was put in charge of grilling the chicken breasts and hamburgers. I make the patties my own special way, mixing in fresh chopped garlic, season salt and, when I form the patties, a pat of butter in the middle. Culver’s is an overpriced evil chain fast food restaurant, but they inspired my burger making with their butterburgers. I flattened out the patties on wax paper and put in the fridge for a couple hours. They grilled up marvelously. The patties cooked up to bun size and flat enough to get a mouth around. Yum!
We also had my mother’s famous baked beans, potato salad, and really good, sweet corn on the cob. I was surprised to eat such good corn this early. Stands are already popping up all over the countryside. I saw my first one Sunday on the way to the Rock River. It seems too early, another symbol, along with pre-Halloween Christmas hype, of cultural hastening.
Other highlights:
· Saw Steve Hardt and my godchildren for the first time in months. They moved into a new house in Machesney Park and Steve proudly gave me a grand tour. Nice place. Half the basement has as much square footage as my entire apartment. Steve Jr. (13) and Brianna (10) are getting so big.
· As I was driving towards downtown Rockford I saw a motorcycle completely engulfed in flames at the intersection of N. 2nd and Riverside.
· Watched the fireworks on the State St. bridge with another old friend, Shawn Robinson. We talked geo-politics and I played devil’s advocate and argued in favor of the Iraq war, saying we need a military presence in the Middle East, Iraq being a no-brainer because of Saddam and its central locale. Shawn’s moving at the end of August, and he doesn’t know where he’s going to end up. I congratulated his rootlessness. He says he may move to another bigger city, either Madison or Chicago.
· Hair roles have reversed. Now Shawn’s got long hair and a ponytail. I look as Republican as I sounded.
· The only downside of the day was the absence of Jonny. He makes every holiday new. Without him there, the fireworks show just wasn’t as fun. A year ago I saw the fireworks reflect off his awestruck eyes. He and Esther are on vacation all week visiting family in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
· More awe-inspiring than fireworks was the sight of pink-hued cumulonimbus clouds at sunset. Anvil thunderheads rumbled through the area all day, but it never rained.
· I found time in all this socializing to spend an hour grading papers. Such is the life of an English teacher. It can’t be avoided.
· Mom and Dad enjoyed telling stories on video. They are young and healthy enough that I’m not worried about their imminent demise, but old enough that I want to get their stories on the record before it’s too late. I guess I’m destined to be the family’s version of Alan Lomax, despite no direct connection to the Library of Congress.

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