It started, as many days have this week, with a short "Phineas and Ferb" marathon, in our big bed. And then a big breakfast of buckwheat pancakes with blackberry syrup. I did a lot of cooking midday--wild rice salad, ramen salad, heritage bean salad--and then Sis and I made my Bammie's chocolate chip cookies. Fourth-generation chocolate-chip cookie bakers!! We also watched a lot of World Cup--poor Neymar with his fractured vertebrae, poor James Rodriguez who tried his very best for Colombia--as well as the rain that fell off and on all afternoon because of Hurricane Arthur; there was even a rainbow! Then we had a big steak dinner, the beef straight from our CSA, with all my sides plus roasted potatoes, Sis's new favorite.
And we talked about the holiday, what it specifically celebrates, and what it means to be an American (Gommie, this is what you missed out on when I said we don't get that excited about the fourth.) As you have no doubt figured, I'm not a patriotic person, nor specifically proud to be an American (see this interesting NYTimes article on patriotism in the generations.) The American flag and other such symbols hold little power over me. In fact, despite promising trends with same-sex marriage rights, I'm pretty discouraged about our country right now especially this week about the Supreme Court and Hobby Lobby and the reverberations of religion, women's rights, money, and power. I think this is because I am pretty devoted to democracy, equality, and freedom, which seem to have been trampled a lot recently. While these are hallmarks of the American system in theory, they are also found now in many first world or Western nations. Having just been to England (plus other countries Mama and I have been to), can we really say that we're superior to them? Reminds me of "This is My Song" sung to the Finlandia tune:
This is my song, O God of all the nations, a song of peace for lands afar and mine. This is my home, the country where my heart is; here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine; but other hearts in other lands are beating with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.
My country's skies are bluer than the ocean, and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine; but other lands have sunlight too, and clover, and skies are everywhere as blue as mine. O hear my song, thou God of all the nations, a song of peace for their land and for mine.
So, no, I don't believe in American exceptionalism. But I do appreciate that our society is more stable and more free than much of the world; that in so many ways, our values are in the right place. And we talked about that with the kids:. we can change leading parties without the coups of Thailand and Egypt; we can hold different religious beliefs without the kidnappings and murders of Israeli and Palestinian teenagers; we can disagree with our government without fear of the crackdowns of Syria or Ukraine; we, as women, can vote and drive and go to school unlike women in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan and Nigeria. (Yes, I know, this is an oversimplification.) There is much good here. But I don't want us to be blinded by patriotic superiority and paternalism. So we celebrate mildly and talk about it all.
We did enjoy fireworks tonight, quite unplanned, though. At bedtime, the boom of explosives and sizzle of fireworks began exploding outside. We could just faintly see the colors up the hill. And so we opted to hop in the car and drive around to see the fireworks in people's yards, much like looking at Christmas lights. And what a show! At one point, we parked on a street where two houses across from each other were dueling--each was sending off professional-grade fireworks and we were underneath them looking through the moon roof of Mama's car, marveling at the display, which lasted 20+minutes. Loud but beautiful
Upon arriving home, we saw more (but smaller, legal) fireworks down the street and went to join the neighbors, who were congregating in the front yard. There, Sis and Bud lit sparklers and ran around with the other children, while I caught up with all of the adults. A diverse group, we were: Asians, Caucasians, lesbians, straight people, married, divorced, dating, single moms, kids with autism, adults in wheelchairs, adults with degenerative disease, teachers, military men, corporate staffers, moms, social workers, all of us hanging out in the smoke of sparklers, chatting and catching up.
Now, that kind of America I can definitely celebrate.
red potatoes, washed and cubed
Toss red potatoes in olive oil; sprinkle with salt. Roast at 400F for 30 minutes or so, flipping them halfway. (I've also baked them 350F for almost an hour, alongside chicken drumsticks.)