Nice day with lots of heavy rain. My daughter arrived home to visit for a few days and got here just before the rain started. When we went out to eat sushi for supper, it had finally stopped.

Didn’t expect to get to watch the fireworks. We watched a little television instead while we caught up on life.  When we heard them popping off, the two of us drove down to watch from a parking lot about half a mile from where they were launched at the Fairgrounds. As usual, I enjoyed watching the people more. Not sure if it was too damp, but the fireworks didn’t seem as noisy or bright as last year. Did enjoy watching a family eating watermelon and it brought back a lot of memories.

When we were young, my parents worked hard, but being part of a large family, there were no long vacations or amusement parks. Instead, living near the Smoky Mountains, our getaways were to drive up the cool windy roads under the overhanging lush green trees into the National Park. Sometimes it’s good to remember how lucky we felt to have a good car and parents who wanted to make the trip.

We were crowded, sitting four across in those high bench seats, no seat belts, wanting to hang our arms out the open windows. But if you stuck even a finger out you were reminded about the kid who lost his arm to a passing truck, cut off clean at the elbow. Everyone would fight over the window seats (always went to the oldest), and talk and look for bears along the way. By the time we arrived, we would be hot and sticky with sweat.

Like the people in this shot from a melon eating contest, Dad would slice the melon and we would dive into our section face first, laughing and spitting seeds to see who could finish first. That first bite of melon was so sweet and cool and wonderful. Afterward, we would wade carefully into the creek over all the rocks and stand barefooted in the water for as long as we could stand it. We’d wash our face and arms clean so sweat bees wouldn’t follow us home, stinging along the way. Of course, we stayed and played a little, before driving on up and through Gatlinburg to look at the sculptures the Sandman might have made that week.

On busy days when the traffic moved at a snail’s pace, we were sometimes given enough change to buy a bottle of coke. The oldest again were the ones to get out, race to buy and open the drinks and walk carefully but quickly back to catch up with our car.  Those bottles were held between their fingers, dangling and dripping chipped ice with the promise of being cold.

Those are the kind of summer days that made us feel rich.

Hope you enjoyed this fourth with loved ones. If not, I hope you remembered the great summer days you’ve had in the past.

May there always be freedom, joy, peace, and sunshine for you and yours. Happy Birthday, U.S.A.



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