far too much writing, far too many photos

July 4th. July 3rd, according to the calendar, but actually July 4th. I can tell. In the first place, all the local holiday festivities happened today in defiance of the calendar’s version of linear reality. Second — and this is the more crucial giveaway — firetrucks and ambulances are running around the countryside, sirens whooping hysterically. All the way out here — officially the middle of nowhere according to the U.S. Geophysical Survey — where I have never before heard or seen a fire truck in emergency mode.

It’s a dangerous state, independence. It leads to the gathering of humans where children run rampant while adults consume great honking piles of meat, quaff oceans of potent liquids. After which they ignite powerful fireworks. Resulting in emergency vehicles getting a good workout.

Speaking of workouts — this morning: got up at an excessively reasonable hour, tossed my gym bag in the car, followed back roads into Montpelier to be a good workout do-be before the facility closed mid-afternoon to allow people to get started on the meat, potent liquids, fireworks. Stopped at the post office on the way, where I noticed that the clerk had a large, strange-looking effigy of a U.S. soldier to one side of his station, a soldier gripping a pole from which hung an outsized American flag. The effigy: more than a foot tall, dressed in khakis and helmet, eyes and mouth wide open, combat-boot shod feet spread apart, planting him solidly on his small patch of simulated earth. The mini-soldier stood atop an oval pedestal, a large red button bulging out of it front and center. The clerk — a bearded, balding, good-humored, eminently likeable 40ish type — saw me checking out his flag-bearer He smiled broadly, reached over and pressed the red button. Immediately, the soldier began singing “God Bless America” at the top of its plastic lungs, waving the flag jerkily about, rubbery plastic mouth moving stiffly in a bizarre imitation of singing. All I could do was smile broadly back at the clerk, enjoying the spectacle. One more in that ongoing parade of spectacles we call life.

After the gym, walking around town taking care of various errands, sun shining through hazy clouds. On impulse this a.m., I’d thrown on good black jeans, pointy black boots, a nice, light silk Hawaiian shirt. Which left me seriously overdressed as everyone else sported warm-weather super-casual duds: t-shirts or polo shirts, shorts, sandals (with or without socks) or sneakers. The same number of people piloted vehicles or roamed the sidewalks as on a work day, more or less (not counting the souls seated at tables in the front yard of a church up the street hoovering down a pancake breakfast). Different attire, though. No work gear.

Families paraded about. Folks looked to be enjoying the start of the long weekend. It was nice to be in the middle of it.

Stopped in at a video rental shop, an episode from the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation played on the store television. The shop had a good sound system, rendering the background noises of a starship clearly, vividly. The counter help and I discussed the pleasures of TNG without commercials, of episodes from the days when Riker was young and sleek, minus the heft and hair of later seasons. Of Worf, Data and Q.

And the morning moved on. As did the day. Early afternoon found me back here on the hill, swapping email with friends, doing laundry, mowing lawn, continuing to shovel my way through the remaining post-Madrid, post-travel chaos here in the house.

It’s evening as I write this. Outside, lightning bugs cruise for love, choruses of crickets sing in the grass, quiet and tranquil. A large ceiling fan spins above me, providing relief from still, humid air.

July 4th. July 3rd, according to the calendar, but actually July 4th. With a whole ‘nother day of it coming tomorrow.

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