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Happy 4th to all Americans out there. Belated, that is.
Today (yesterday, in case you’re confused) we celebrated our first American Independence Day in years with that quintessential American activity–shopping.
We rarely go to the mall and when we do, I’m always surprised at how many other people have had the same idea. I’ll think, “Oh it’s a lovely sunny weekend. No one will be there! We’ll have the place to ourselves and we’ll just duck into the Lego store and pick up Abel’s birthday present in 2 minutes!” And then we spend 45 minutes just looking for parking. So I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.
We started out with a patriotic breakfast. I mixed blueberries and raspberries (hand-picked! Fresh!) in a bowl and put them on the table next to a bowl of powdered sugar and voila! Red, white and blue means a perfect 4th of July breakfast. We had French toast, or Freedom toast as I proudly called it (don’t choke; I really did call it that but it went right over the kids‘ heads and Donn just rolled his eyes at me) and then we spent most of breakfast discussing French history, as it turned out. Don’t worry–for July 14th we’ll have the same breakfast and then we’ll discuss the American Revolution.
It was up to Ilsa, however, and her fiddly little personality to make it a truly Patriotic breakfast.

Isn’t she great, folks?
She also needed a new swimsuit for camp. “Do you think Target is open today?” I asked Donn. “I don’t know,” he said. I decided they probably were–after all, what‘s more American than trying to make a buck? And I was right. Not only was Target open, EVERYBODY was open, except for banks and of course no mail.
In the evening, we went to a barbecue with friends who live out in the country. They promised some good fireworks. “Our neighbour is a pyromaniac,” they told me. So we went to celebrate our independence in the American way–loud explosions and bright colours!
They live out in rural Oregon, a place of sun-drenched vines and orchards rolling off into the distance, of textured, verdant hills. They live on an acre or two, with huge trees and inviting lawns and a cosy, light-filled home. And they were right–their neighbour goes waay beyond your typical neighbourhood pyromaniac. At dusk, we took our chairs out back, where we had an uninterrupted view across a yard to a really impressive display of enormous fireworks. It was at least as big as most city displays, and it went on and on and on. Fantastic! It really was a perfect way to spend a 4th of July evening; tables groaning under the weight of all this really good food (including mounds of local fresh berries and cherries), good company, and really loud noises accompanied by pretty lights.
Of course I forgot my camera. I couldn’t believe it. Also, Donn “the Photographer” was similarly unarmed. You will just have to imagine it; the kids shivering in the slip’n’slide, the badminton birdie getting stuck in the branches of the tall, tall oak, the sheer volume of my children as they ran through the late afternoon light, the bursts of red, white, orange, purple and green against the velvety black, so bright that we cast shadows in their brief glare, the will-o-the-wisp motion of children running with glow sticks in the deep shadows under the trees. Perfect.

July 2008

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