Rain is not something anyone wants on the Fourth of July. We expect roasting temps, good food, and fireworks to celebrate the freedom we all take for granted on a daily basis. (I actually read a good article about what it means to be free here. Definitely something to think about.) We invited friends and family over to enjoy an evening of just that. Unfortunately, the forecast had another story in mind. Showers were expected to happen throughout the day, but never with very high percentages. Soldiers, forward march! Tables were set up, the stage was set up with a flag and red, white, and blue crepe streamers, lawn chairs were arranged, and the corn hole was expectantly awaiting the competitive camaraderie sure to be taking place.
As people began to arrive, the tables began to take shape to form a plenteous spread for the evening. As we all watched the first corn hole game of the evening, thunder began to rumble ominously. Fear not! We are brave Americans who laugh in the face of thunderstorms. Especially Arkansas weather thunderstorms. Surely it would pass on by. We could see the rain filled cloud, and there was, in fact, only one. We could even see the gorgeous blue sky in its wake. Enter in the light sprinkle. Who cares about getting a little wet? It was so humid it felt good. Since we had a few older couples in our yard, Mom opened up the house for any who cared to escape until the storm passed over. A few people took her up on that and made their way up to the house. Sprinkles became a little heavier. Suddenly, it was no longer sprinkling. This was real rain. Those who had not already made it to the house either took refuge in the metal shed just yards away, and others ran to the lone food tent. (I might mention that the long table holding the food took up the majority of this tent space. Enter the deluge. Mrs. Sally, one of the older members of our evening, still sat out in her lawn chair, holding her umbrella. My grandparents still shared their umbrella along with a little stowaway, Julia. (3 years old) Finally, the horrific downpour was too much and some of the men helped Mrs. Sally into the house. By this time all of us under the food tent discovered that just because we were under the tent didn’t mean we were escaping from the rain. The rain was collecting on the rims of the cover and pouring into it’s inhabitants. My smart move was to hold up the end so that the water would stop hitting us. Which meant all the water that was previously pouring on others was now running down my arm. We laughed about the close quarters. Which were quite close, indeed. Twelve grown people all huddling under a food tent where the majority of floor space was taken up by a table means the odds we were keeping dry weren’t quite in our favor. A radar was pulled up on a phone, and we saw the minuscule green circle that indicated we were the only ones in a large radius that had any idicator of rain. It pretty much looked like the only place it was raining was our house. Then as soon as it came, it was gone. The sky gave us an apology and shone a perfect blue with cotton candy clouds fro the rest of the evening. Entertainment was yet to come. My family and I had planned to sing the National Anthem as well as My Country Tis of Thee. Before it got dark, we all got up on the stage and did our acapella entertainment. But the entertainment wasn’t over yet. Next came the Patrick Henry “Give me Liberty or give me Death!” speech, delivered in full Union Army regalia. The best part, by far, was when the famous statement, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” was delivered, somebody, somewhere, shot off a firework. So while all we heard was the “boom”, it was still the perfect ending to the speech.
“If we wish to be free, if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending, if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained, we must fight!”
Now the wait for sunset. As the clouds turned pink and the blue faded to grey, you could hear the distant thunder of other families shooting off their fireworks. Starting with the sparklers, our evening of light shows had begun. I probably had as much fun as the kids trying to get sparkler shots. I tried to communicate to some of the little ones that I wanted them to twirl and dance and move around like crazy, but they didn’t really get the memo. They seemed to prefer standing in one place and going in circles with their sparklers. No matter. I still got some neat shots.
I tried to get Josie to spell ‘love’ with her sparkler. You can see the l,o,v,e, right??
Once the sparklers were gone, then came the Roman candles and smoke bombs. One big firework lit up the sky, and that’s when it came back.
We found ourselves being sprinkled once more. Then it came down harder. Scramble to get the fireworks. Scramble to get my camera in a dry spot. Most people by this time had enough. So just about everyone packed up and headed home. The rain quickly diminished and then left, leaving us the calm to clean up the rest of the yard for the night. Watching out for the muddy spots was the hardest part.
Unfortunately, the only pictures I got of the evening were of the sparklers and one firework. But I’m not going to apologize, because I was truly present and invested in the evening. I wasn’t worried about the perfect framing, exposure, focal point, etc. Sometimes memories are meant to be felt, not captured. And I don’t think I’ll be forgetting this Fourth of July anytime soon!