(Where pray tell is Summer in that picture? I thought for sure they were all in it. Maybe she was standing by me? Well . . . in any case, she isn’t still missing, so she must not have been too far off.)
Very early Saturday morning the cannons went off. Four times? I think it was four. (Because you keep thinking it’s just that one deafening sound and begin to lay your head back on your pillow when another blast goes off. And another and another.) It’s really always just the worst because I don’t know how it’s possible for them to be as loud as they are at our house without the sound waves alone knocking down and turning to deaf whoever it is that lights them off. They shake the house and wake whatever babies we have (and there have always been babies) and wake every non baby too. And some are old enough to shrug the cannons off, but others must be reminded (the night before) that the cannons will be going off in the morning and that they must remember that it’s just the cannons and not get scared (because the only other thing that could possibly come to a mind startled awake by their sound is that Armageddon had arrived and the world was exploding . . . or maybe imploding . . . I don’t know . . . something apocalyptic). And later the smaller kids talk about how they heard the cannons go off in an attitude of part pride, part excitement, and part . . . fear that they try to hide because they know they are too old to be scared of a few cannons going off.
But for all its . . . worstness I kind of like it. Because . . . I don’t know . . . it’s what I’ve grown to expect every last Saturday of June (when our little town celebrates its Founder’s Day), and I would be strangely sad if we simply quit being woken in such an awful fashion. It’s . . . tradition. And it does mark the start of a day that I have grown very fond of. Founder’s Day always feels like, “Now it’s really summer time”.
A good deal of it is due simply to where our house is positioned. If the kids go out in the backyard during the mornings leading up to Founder’s Day, they can often hear the high school band practicing in the field beyond our house. And on Founder’s Day itself, there’s the parade. Classic cars and floats and drummers and cheerleaders all lining up practically across the street from our house. The kids watch them from our front yard (shouting about every balloon, bagpiper and tractor they see) while I sunblock them up, and Mike pumps up bike tires, and Abe and Daisy trot down to just past the round-about (where the parade starts) to set up a blanket and chairs for us. And they watch them again as we walk past every parade entry on our way to the start of the parade. And they watch them again as the parade actually . . . well, parades down the street – shooting water guns, blaring sirens (that “the parade is starting” first fire truck terrifies the younger kids at least as much as the morning cannons), and mostly tossing out armloads of salt-water taffy and Tootsie Rolls (which our kids gather into plastic grocery bags and eat without pause for the rest of the day).
And the rest of Saturday moves along fairly normally. We all walk home and we put little people for naps. And sometimes Mike wanders back to the park with a few kids who want to see what other games and festivities are afoot. And sometimes we just stay home, run errands, and do ordinary Saturday things.
This Saturday, Mike and Abe worked on getting things ready for their High Adventure camping trip; and someone (everyone was certain it was not them) spilled strawberry shortcake topping into an absolutely impossible number of spots in our fridge; and then we shattered a huge, glass, fridge shelf as we took it out to clean, and we spent about 90 minutes cleaning fridge and kitchen from all of that instead of doing whatever we might have imagined we’d be doing while babies napped; and Summer kept talking about how she was a big girl who was not going to bed but was going to stay up for fireworks and how Mette was not a big girl like her and would be going to bed before fireworks; and mostly everyone (well besides Hans and the not-as-big-of-a-girl-as-Summer Mette) stayed outside late into the night – running around, and coloring with chalk, and watching the stream of cars heading up to the high-school – while Mike planted a tree in a spot where one died last year, and I ran to the store to pick up a few ingredients for desserts for the mission farewells (Mike’s niece and my nephew) we were attending the next day, and I chatted with my neighbor who works at said grocery store (and was scheduled to be off at 10:00 PM) and crossed fingers for her that the fireworks would go off late so she wouldn’t miss them; and then we all gathered in our backyard and watched the fireworks and speculated, absently, that our neighbors had cut down that one tall tree that used to partially block our view solely so we could watch the Founder’s Day fireworks better.
And then we all went in to bed while police lights flashed outside and officers helped direct the congestion of cars and people who weren’t lucky enough to live right where the fireworks could be seen.
The End. Except for, unrelated to Founder’s Day: Summer, Hans feet and hands, and every child that could possibly climb in a hammock . . . in a hammock.