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  Thursday January 29th, 2015    

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Light show (07/07/2013)
By Frances Edstrom

I love the Fourth of July. So few of our holidays are celebrated on their actual day, instead relegated to the nearest Monday. Then there are Christmas, New Yearís Day, and the Fourth. Itís not convenient for you to have a holiday on a Tuesday or Thursday? Too bad! Celebrate no matter what! These holidays are like unexpected gifts, showing up like magic on your doorstep, and the more meaningful because of it.

Our entire little family gathered at my house in the valley. I actually cooked, not something I do much of now that the dog and I are the only ones at home, and his food comes pre-cooked. Unlike most people, I take the occasion of having company coming to try out new recipes. I figure if they donít work, thereís always the phone number of the nearest pizza joint, or breakfast cereal and fresh fruit. I wanted to try a borscht recipe I found that promised to be quick, but it called for bottled beet juice. I didnít find any in Winona, so contacted Cassidy before they left St. Paul. She couldnít find it in the upscale grocery stores there, and not even in their super-duper food co-op. So, now I still have the bunch of beets to contend with. Maybe a salad?

The day couldnít have been more beautiful. Just the right amount of heat and humidity to make you wonder if heaven could match it. The kids swam and swam. Each time they go in the pool, they become more comfortable. Peyton wants us to time how long it takes her to get from one end of the pool to the other, either under or on top of the water. Harry is dog paddling all over the pool, wearing his swim aids, and even Andie, who initially had an aversion to the water, is shouting to us to guess if she is standing on the bottom, or floating. I donít think she quite understands that water is transparent. When kids begin to think that water isnít dangerous, though, is exactly when it becomes more so, which is why I put in a pool alarm. This alarm isnít without its annoyances, though. A strong wind will set it off in the middle of the night, forcing me to pad outside with the key to disarm it.

After supper on the deck, the kids swam some more. We pulled them out of the pool and got them dressed in time to sit on the lawn and watch our neighborsí fireworks shoot into the sky and explode above the trees. We all cheered like crazy.

Even without fireworks, we would have had a light show. Dan has an app on his cell phone that identifies stars. He pointed his phone at a star, got it in his screen, and instantly we knew the name of the star.

Not only did we have a starry light show, but the fireflies were perfecting their acts for the Cirque des Lucioles. The kids were enchanted. They speculated as to why the fireflies were so active. They thought perhaps the fireflies were excited about the fireworks, and were celebrating the Fourth with their own. When we were kids, we wanted to catch the fireflies in jars and watch them glow up close, but this show seemed like such a firefly-community event, it seemed a shame to remove one or two actors.

The next day, I looked up information about fireflies, and found that they use their lighting up, or bioluminescence, for the purpose of selecting a mate. Iím glad I didnít know that as we sat there on the lawn in the gloaming, mesmerized by their gentle flashing. Somehow it would take the romance out of such a night if I thought I was watching the firefly equivalent of a night at the beer tent (sorry, beer garden) during Steamboat Days.

It wasnít until my nearest neighborís fireworks were over, and the neighborís show farther up the valley was wrapping up, that I noticed mosquitoes. It was quite late, so we bundled the kids off to their beds, tidied the kitchen a bit, and went off to have our own sweet dreams of magical lights dancing a gay tarantella through the night. 


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