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Monday, July 5, 2010

Independence Day 2010`

I suppose on some level, this entry should be about how on this July 4th I'm free of cancer and regaining my independence. But to be
honest, I haven't thought about that at all today. Instead, what I keep thinking about is what a wonderful community I live in.

It well and truly is the absolute best in the nation.

Hyperbole aside, I do live in a wonderful community. On the surface, it doesn't look like anything special. What makes it so wonderful is the people within it. This is very apparent over the July 4th holiday.

It's cool enough that the Boy Scouts go around town and put little American flags in the tree lawns, but also for the last few years, the holiday has started with a July 3rd Hog Roast at the home of Brenda and Roger. Every year, it gets larger and more people are involved. There's a core group of men who prepare the hog the night before, including splitting it down the center. This is usually accomplished with the "assistance" of quite a few young helpers, mostly boys, who find the idea of using a hatchet and hammer on a several hundred pound dead animal quite fascinating.

The following morning, many of the same men start the roasting. Later in the day, friends begin to gather, each family bringing a dish (or more than one) to share. At the height of food-heaven, there are at least three grills going, not counting the roasting pig flesh, and two large tables of food, ranging from veggies to hummus to salads to desserts. Kids of all ages play all sorts of "traditional" kid games....pick up games of kickball and football, soccer, kick the can, cops and robbers...and some games invented at previous hog roasts, including the ever popular one where two children each hold an exercise ball and run pell mell into each other. That game is always fun, until someone gets hurt and some parent puts the kabosh on it. The swing set is always swarming with the younger set, and there is always a kid or two, or three, or four or more on the side wall of the yard, which also happens to have the Preamble to the Constitution inscribed on it in sidewalk chalk for all to behold. I don't think I've ever seen a significant child squabble.

The adults mill around, tending grills and children, quaffing cold beverages of all sorts, including the adult sort, and doing what adults do best: talking. At some point, instruments are brought out.

What makes the whole thing incredibly representative of our wonderful community is that for that one night, we become a village. Children are tended to by multiple adults. Older children tend younger children. Adults flow seamlessly from group to group. Regardless of marital status, religious (or not) background, family size, race...about the only thing everyone has in common is a progressive political bent, but to varying degrees. Everyone pitches in to make sure that the magic works.

And work it does. Here are two examples: 2oo people, at least 1/3 or more children, and only one bathroom. But that's never an issue. Magic or miracle, you decide.

Example two: At this year's Hog Roast, the teens in my family (my own two plus the two cousins) were ready to go home; I was tired; my husband was willing to leave; the two 10 year olds were NOT ready to leave. Nope, no way, not at all. It was just fully dark and the kids had been looking forward ALL DAY to playing cops and robbers in the dark. ALL DAY, mom, ALL DAY, and you want us to leave NOW, JUST WHEN IT IS DARK, THAT'S NOT FAIR!!!!!
A friend who also had two children who were going to play cops and robbers in the dark stepped right up and offered to bring the two 10 year olds home when she left with her family. Magic.

As if that weren't enough, the very next day, July 4th rolls around.

Many of us wander back over to the Hog Roast for pulled pork left overs. In years past, we've spent the afternoon of the 4th at Brenda and Roger's, hanging out with friends, eating left overs, people showing up throughout the afternoon and evening with side dishes, kids continuing to romp. This year, however, with the cousins (and my husband's sister, their mother) in town, my family hung out at home. Grandma and the Uncle came over. The kids slept most of the morning and then chilled for most of the afternoon, playing ladder ball, football, and soccer in the yard, eating popcicles, and hanging out. The adults chatted on the patio until it got too hot and humid and we moved indoors. Normal stuff.

As darkness approached, most of us headed over for the fireworks.

I think Bowling Green has the most spectacular fireworks in the world. I'm sure there are better shows, but few places offer such a wonderful atmosphere. For at least 13 years, we've sat in the same spot, on the same hill, with the same people. The kids have simply grown up doing this. It's expected. It's tradition. We don't see some of these people at any other time of the year. Just on the hill beside the Rec Center at the fireworks. Of course there are many other places to view the fireworks, and I'm pretty sure most people go to their own favorite spot each year. I love to be on the hill, though. Kids play frisbee and catch at the base. Little kids roll down the hill. As it gets darker and darker, more and more people gather, most sitting in family pods on blankets. Kids running around, visiting with friends, making new parents anxious, then BAM! The first firework goes off and everyone scurries back to their spots to settle in and enjoy the show.
This year, a local church's bells also played patriotic music during the first and last parts of the show. Nifty.

This was a special year because, like so many communities, including several around us, Bowling Green didn't have the funds to provide a fireworks display; however, we didn't let that stop us. As a community, we pulled together and said, "This will not do." There were jars in nearly every store for donations of change. Churches worked to raise funds. There was a Facebook campaign. Local businesses donated money. Individuals donated money. We needed $16, 000 and we raised $16, 195.49. On top of that, Bowling Green also won a $10,000 grant from Liberty Mutual to help fund the fireworks.

Because that's how we roll. We are awesome. Our community rocks.

As for my family, we walked home after the fireworks, and some friends came over for ice cream. Sixteen kids and six adults. Believe it or not, there were left overs.

Now, at nearly 2:00 a.m. there are three kids settling into the family room, one asleep on the living room floor, and three man-size teens upstairs ready to sleep. In theory, those three were supposed to be sleeping in a tent in the yard, but it's too hot.

So, while the focus of July 4th is on "independence," in truth, for me at least, the observance of this holiday is about inter-dependence. None of this great weekend could take place if we were independent from one another. It's our connection, our interdependence, that makes this all work. We have to become dependent upon each other to make life work smoothly.

To be dependent, we must be able to trust that others will do their work and they must be able to trust that we will do ours. We must be able to trust that others will look out for our best interests and we must look out for theirs. We have to be able to believe that the roles we all play are necessary and equally important.

Beyond the history, beyond the "My country 'tis of thee," beyond the obvious "begone, ye British overlords" what July 4th means to me is interdependence day...a day to express the connections and ties within this wonderful community.

Oh, yes, and I completed my second 5K race, too.


Anonymous said...

Great series of posts. Your 4th does sound wonderful!

Abs said...

I am completely with you, particularly about the rec center lawn. It's the perfect spot. Some guy behind me wished at one point that the church (mine) would stop playing those frickin' bells, and I just shook my head. Silly man. Last night's show totally rocked, and even more so because the community made it happen!

Debbie Long said...

I love this town!!

grilledcheesegoddess said...

Debbie, Abby, I knew that had to be your church, 'cuz that's the way you guys roll....

Abs said...

Debbie Long? As in mother of Connor? I have been watching his theatrical career with interest, via the church plays and music. That boy has some acting chops.

grilledcheesegoddess said...

Abby, meet Debbie. Debbie, meet Abby.
Debbie, should your children require jump rope lessons (or perhaps dancing advice) or help with writing, especially "creative" writing, Abby is your gal. Abby, Debbie can organize an army and is full of great ideas....

Jaime Cadegan said...

Aw, you make me miss BG! We saw you on the lawn at least one year more than 10 years ago...time flies.