Sunday, July 3, 2011

The 4th

The 4th was my Grandpa Smith's favorite holiday--possibly because of the BBQ, or maybe it was the setting things on fire aspect of the day, or, and I think this is probably the most likely explanation, he loved watching all of his grandkids as we sat on Grandma's quilts in the grass sway-necked with mouths shaped into the letter O as the powder caught fire and exploded into a screaming fountain of dangerous stars.

I remember Grandma's lilacs and the word "Howdy" written in cursive at the top end of her sidewalk, how the clean, warm smell from the laundry vent greeted each visitor, there for a "second lunch" of leftover spaghetti and chocolate chip cookies.  (We lived right down the dirt road from her and would often tell her we hadn't had lunch yet just so we could eat her cooking.  We told her this without thinking about how it might reflect on mom.  When you are young, you don't think about those kinds of consequences.)

Grandpa had an enormous garden and would tend it as Grandma's back never did well with the work it required.  He'd bring his harvest in, and she would can and can and can.  Peaches, green beans, stewed tomatoes, pears and apricot.  The two worked well together, meeting each other at the intersection of their strengths, and filling in where one was weaker.  They were evenly yoked.

I will write more about the ranch one of these days because it is the kind of place that has grown beyond simply being a location from one's childhood.  Formative.  That's the word.  That place was formative.


  1. I would have loved to have met your grandparents. :)

    I think this is great, because for me, the Fourth of July has almost always been connected with my paternal grandparents (since they live here! :) ).

  2. And, the most important thing about the 4th of July, my dad yelling, BONZAI!


    Loved those 4th of July gatherings. Uncle Bill would lay on the ground and we would run around him, fleeing from "THE CLAW." Guitars would come out. We would climb that tree near the edge, overlooking the side hill, the one with all the ants. I swear, that tree has my bottom imprinted on it to this day. The lemonade (and half a dozen other powdered mixes grandma kept in her metal storage bins). The lilacs I still remember to this day and the yellow roses.

    Love you, cous. Let's spell out our names in sparklers.

  3. "They were evenly yolked."
    That's good. A good phrase that says so much more than its words.