Friday, July 19, 2002
An American family on the Fourth of July
Last Thursday our family, which consists of Paul, Greek-American, Cynthia, German-English and Rose and Lucas from South America celebrated the Fourth of July together at Old Home Day in Carlisle. Rose, age 7 1/2, was unsure how the events would unfold during the day ("Would there be fireworks in the morning?"), but she was soon distracted by the pleasure of carrying her toy cash register in the car to the parade. We settled on the Town Green to wait for the parade to start, watching the fire trucks move up toward the school. We always arrive too early, but on this day it was a good strategy, spreading our blanket under the deepest part of the shade to avoid the developing heat of the fourth day of the heat wave. Paul wandered over to Daisy's to get a bagel and iced coffee for breakfast. The kids pulled out toys and watched as others gathered around us under the shade. Carlisle third-grade teacher Liz Gray and her family arrived, picking a choice seat by the stone wall, which was perfect for grabbing the candy that would soon be flying. Lucas, 10, jumped as a motorcycle backfired again and again, and the Carlisle ambulance, trying to get through the increasing traffic around the town green, rushed off to a real emergency up Concord Street. We listened to the ceremony behind us on the green, heard the Minutemen fire their rifles (Lucas kept his fingers in his ears), sang along with the National Anthem, but were too hot to climb the slope to watch Bob Koning receive the honored citizen award and the conservationist award to Marjie Findlay. By the time the parade started we were shoulder to shoulder with our town neighbors, all vying for a piece of the shade. If you moved, you sweated. Rose and her friend Sadina watched for Sadina's sister Maggie, who was riding her new bike in the parade, her mom following gamely in the sweltering heat. The karate demonstrations impressed the kids, the First Religious Society's Fan Club presentation was hysterical, Devon and Halley's American Hero float was fantastic and more importantly, Devon's aim with the candy was true. Rose and Lucas both scored a piece and were beaming happily as the Historical Society's hearse ended the parade.
Our next goal was to watch the frog-jumping contest. Lucas had planned to catch a frog that morning, but lost his energy as the heat progressed. However, as we waited by the frog-jumping arena, he was offered an extra frog by his friend Daniel and his family. Though his frog gave only a moderate performance, he was thrilled at the ribbon he won (all contestants received ribbons). Of course the best part of the competition was the escaping frogs and the screams from the kids sitting close to the frog circle. We discovered size is not a determining factor in successful jumping, since some of the largest, heavyweight frogs, while impressive in girth, gave disappointing little hops when they were prodded from behind. Perhaps they, too, were overcome by the increasing heat.
Our final destination was the country fair. Each year Rose buys one of those foamy animals on a wire, and this year's pink galloping horse is still a constant companion. Lucas was thrilled to find marionettes for sale and has performed many family shows with the wolf puppet he bought. I headed for a pottery booth, which had beautiful stoneware pottery thrown by the mother of Rose's friend Justin. Paul bought some Carlisle maple syrup.
On to a family gathering
Though we were tempted by the barbeque, we were invited to my sister's house on Lake Boone in Stow. So we loaded into the van, blasted ourselves with air conditioning, and joined her family and friends for four hours of floating in the lake. As I hung in the water suspended on a noodle, I chatted with an old friend about the variety of people at the lakeside - a divorced mom, a widower with a mentally handicapped daughter, a mildly autistic but bright child and kids who were happy and carefree but had issues. "Everyone has something to deal with," she noted, telling me she believed her true family consisted of the people closest to her, not necessarily related to her. "We're all Americans," she said, "and we can be proud we come in so many shapes, sizes and colors." I agreed, thinking of all the neighbors and friends we saw during our Old Home Day celebration.
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito