Friday, July 04, 2008


I tell friends burdened with caring for young children – at some point you and they will be independent of each other and I guess that’s a good thing (sniffle)…

Independence Day. The Fourth of July and I have been trying to find a celebratory middle ground for years. While I truly appreciate the historic events that lead to the day’s glory, I’m not quite sure how we should conduct ourselves now to show our respect. And I say this not only as a newcomer to this country.

When the kids were little, we could have wound red, white and blue streamers around their bikes and had them join the neighborhood parade of little tykes doing the same, but I could never work up enthusiasm for the project. It seemed far and removed from the congressional approval of a document centuries ago.

Besides, whatever fun elements may have been had in biking with dozens of honking kids around the block, evaporated in a sea of mosquitoes and hot sticky air.

When holiday pomp eludes me, I compensate by cooking. I once made a splendid Fourth of July tart with “white” crème patisserie, blueberries and strawberries, and that worked, until someone noted that it was an excellent French tart.

Grilling was okay for a while, but now I live in a condo and frankly, there’s no one worth grilling for. I can’t see Ed taking enthusiastically to flipping seared meats of fish on a Weber. A llittle reminiscent of this kind of set up:

001 copy

Last year, I decided to prolong my stay in France until the day after the Fourth of July. Expats in Paris tend not to put red white and blue streamers into their velos and so the holiday came and went and I relaxed.

But this year, I am looking the Fourth squarely in the eye. I’m in DC, with my two independent daughters.

We start the day with Washington’s newest kick – tangy yogurt. Mine’s with star fruit. In celeration of stars.

006 copy

004 copy

009 copy

We take the metro and we people watch. The subway car has the pulse of the Fourth. I'm mesmerized.

011 copy

In Alexandria, we get off and head for the Potomac. We rent bikes and take the trail to Washington’s estate at Mt. Vernon. Along the river.

041 copy

In the days of George W (oh, surely you know I mean Washington!), this same path must have felt swampy and wet. Now, it weaves over and under bridges, past recreational parks, through well tended woods.

043 copy

Still, it’s a lovely stretch of green space.

032 copy

Closer to the city, families spread blankets, light up the Weber, slice up the watermelon. It’s hot and there is a threat of storms, but no one seems to mind. A park of relaxed faces. In spite of it all, in spite of what takes place in this place of government, there is this: a day to sit on a blanket and watch the children drip juice on their ernest young faces.

The city and the Fourth – it’s all interconnected. I see people carrying brochures which explain how and where to celebrate it. The Metro is rerouted, schedules are changed. On the Mall there is a swelling mass that comes from every corner of the country, and from across the ocean, on a strong Euro and weak dollar. To see what all the fuss is about.


We avoid the crowds. We go to our own corner, our own rooftop and watch, enraptured. So beautiful.











It's easier then, on the rooftop, watching the fireworks, isn't it? It makes sense, right?