The end of a three day weekend has come to an end. But not just any three day weekend, a three day weekend capped off with a thunderous fireworks display despite the drizzle and misty skies. I came into work this morning, my brain mush. Colleagues asked me questions about things that had happened at work on Friday, and I couldn’t reply coherently, partly because Friday was so busy and partly because do much had happened between Friday and Tuesday.
We were up and about every morning this weekend. Highs on Saturday were in the upper 70s/low 80’s, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. We took advantage of the idyllic weather by meeting friends from Chennai and their boys who are roughly the same age as our kids to pick blueberries. We drove out to Butler’s Orchard in Maryland, about 45 minutes from our house. Not exactly the countryside, but close enough. We rode a tractor to and from the field and spent over an hour among the blueberry bushes, filling our buckets. At one point Clementine exclaimed, “This is the best day ever!” We took turns finding “the motherlode” of blueberries.
After the kids tired of picking blueberries (we filled 1 ½ buckets!), we rode the tractor back to the parking lot where we paid for our blueberries and a bag of kettle corn. The boys grabbed burlap sacks and went down the super-slides while Clementine and I hung out at the playground. There were also decommissioned tractors to sit on and water pumps to play with. Around 1:00 we headed out, stopping in downtown Gaithersburg for lunch and beers at the Growler Brewery. After lunch, we stopped at the small train museum before heading home.
That night, the kids ate leftover pizza. No one had much of an appetite after our late lunch, but Elise did use our farm-fresh, hand-picked blueberries to make the most amazing cobbler ever. I skipped dinner and had three helpings. Cobbler and beer for dinner. Yum!
On Sunday, Sam was out the door on his bike, accompanying Elise on a run. Earlier in the morning, I got out of bed and headed downstairs with Peter and Clementine where we started a game of Candyland while Elise and Sam slept. Pete and Clementine play amazingly well together and, when Sam woke up, they were happy to include him in our game. Sadly, two rounds of play later, Sam was accusing Clementine of skipping her turn (which—if you know anything about Candyland—just doesn’t make sense. Why—in a game based upon the act of moving your token forward—would someone intentionally cheat by abstaining from an opportunity to advance their play?) and throwing Pete’s piece across the room. He seemingly doesn’t do well when cooped up in the house.
Conversely, Peter screams like we are hauling him off to the gallows every time we suggest we get ready to leave the house to go do something and is perfectly content just puttering in his room by himself, tinkering with Legos or drawing (usually active volcanos spewing hot lava).
After much cajoling, I did get Peter out of the house and he and Clementine in the trailer (a two-seat buggie I attach and pull behind my mountain bike) and we met Elise and Sam on the running trail. Sam peeled off, and we continued to the comic book store while Elise ran home to shower. We got a few new comics and Pokemon cards before riding home. After a light lunch of leftover cous-cous, everyone took naps. Even me. Elise headed out later that afternoon for a photo shoot while I used some of the previous day’s haul to whip up a pitcher of blueberry margaritas.
I grilled flank steak and shrimp, and we listened to country music while the kids played around us. At one point, I was on the back porch manning the grill. Elise appeared at the back door and beckoned me inside. I stepped into the kitchen and looked at her inquisitively. “Listen,” she told me. On the radio was the song we danced to at our wedding, Rascal Flatts’ “Bless the Broken Road”. I immediately burst into tears, telling Elise, “I’d been on the verge all day.” It was true. I was feeling remarkably….happy. “Well, you’re the one playing the sappy music,” she fired back as she wrapped me up in her arms. All three kids appeared at the back screen door, looking at us strangely, thinking something wrong. They seemed very relieved when Elise explained to them that was the song we danced to at our wedding.
Monday morning, July 4th, was wet and dreary. Mist hung low in the sky. We hadn’t made plans so we decided to go out to a fancy breakfast. We picked Founding Farmers in Tyson’s, a place I had heard a lot about as a leader in the farm-to-table movement, but that neither Elise or I had had a chance to check out yet. We beat the crowds and arrived for the holiday brunch a few minutes after their doors opened at 8:00 (the restaurant usually has a waiting list for dinner reservations several weeks long), and savored pancakes, beet and goat cheese hash, shrimp and grits, brown-sugar coated bacon, devilled eggs, fried shrimp and fried chicken, even doughnuts, cheesecake, cookies, and popcorn for dessert!
After a breakfast like that, I was basically useless for the next several hours. We stopped at the mall, and I took the kids to the Lego store while Elise shopped, but because of the soggy weather, both Elise and I were in kind of a funk. The kids were loud, argumentative, and disagreeable. As we sat around the house in the afternoon, weathering the rain, we wondered aloud if we had somehow failed our kids by not planning some amazingly magical Fourth. Instead, they were curled up on the couch watching cartoons on the iPad, but given the circumstances it seemed like all we could do just to keep our heads above water. Elise seemed particularly upset that we didn’t attend a parade, to which I could only reply, “We didn’t do parades when I was a kid. Too hot.” Which I know wasn’t incredibly helpful.
We walked to the store during a break in the rain, and the fresh air did everyone a world of good. Home, we grilled hot dogs with cole slaw and watermelon. After dinner, we rinsed the kids off in the bath, intimating that the Falls Church fireworks show scheduled for 9:20 at the nearby football field was going to be cancelled. It had been pouring all day. Elise and I were exhausted. We put the kids in bed where they read quietly. I opened a beer and crashed on the couch.
“How is your plan going to go off when they start hearing fireworks?” Elise asked.
I got up and opened the front door and looked out into the wet night. The rain had slowed to a light drizzle. Fireflies played in the bushes, like blinking lights on a runway right up to the house. I went to the kids room and waved them out of bed. It was close to nine. They looked up at me forlornly. “Come look at the fireflies.”
I drew them outside with sparklers we purchased at a roadside stand earlier in the day, drawing them out with my own light. A few minutes later, we heard crashing booms and the sky lit up over the trees. The fireworks show started. Everyone threw their flip-flops on and ran down the sidewalk in their pajamas for a closer look. I ran after them in barefeet. We ran to the parking lot of the neighboring apartment community next to the high school where we could see the fireworks over the trees and watched them despite the drizzle. Perhaps not failing completely in building memories of the Fourth.