4th of July

Ah, the 4th of July: The smell of hamburgers on the grill, the fireworks, the freaky green beetles that rose up out of the grass in our backyard like the plagues of ancient Egypt and dive bombed us as we ran for our lives like streakers at at football game.

First the beetles. Tony and I had planned on celebrating the independence of our beloved country by doing what we do best, which lately, has been working on the new deck. (Railings are up now, by the way! And the whole thing was sealed with waterproof, sun proof, mildew proof wood sealant). We had just stepped out on the screened-in porch when we noticed that Mason was tracking something. Something large, and green, with icky bug legs. Anyway, Tony, being the manly man of the house, managed to trap it in an empty pickle jar that we had lying around (and he said my collection of empty pickle jars wouldn't come in handy!) and take the bug out to the grass. We had been so intent on catching the bug on the inside that we had neglected to notice that there were hundreds, no thousands of these very same bugs on the outside, rising up out of the lawn and buzzing around with reckless abandon.

"What are they?", I asked.
"I think it's a kind of beetle", he responded.

I only know about two types of beetles. One is the annoying little brown beetles that are attracted to porch lights and get stuck in your hair as you try to race past them into the safety of the house during the early summer. The other kind is wood boring beetles, and I don't know what they look like, but I know my parents battle with them every year as the beetles savagely carve perfectly round holes in their deck. Since these were very large, iridescent green beetles, that ruled out the brown beetles.

"You better stay away from my new deck!", I yelled at them as they launched themselves repeatedly into the screened door. A quick Google search (specifically to this site) indicates that these are a third type of beetles. These are June Beetles. I've included the picture below so you can fully appreciate their icky bug-like bugginess. Apparently they live in the ground and come out during the day. They do not eat wood or people, so we were able to work out a trans-species compromise. (Like rival gangs, we divided up the backyard...We mostly worked up on the porch, and they mostly stayed down around the grass, so there wasn't any trouble. Cross into rival turf though, and there's going to be a throw down).

'Round 1pm, all the local backyard grills fired up for their 4th of July hamburgers. (Ohhhh, the smell of grilling meat! Is there anything better in the whole world? I'm pretty sure that heaven will smell like that.) We didn't have any specific 4th of July plans, but we did just get our very first gas grill for our birthday last month, and I've been dying to try it out. We have a shiny new grill and shiny new giant grilling forks and shiny new tongs, and shiny new hamburgers and buns (okay, the meat and buns weren't really shiny, but you know what I mean), so I thought we were all set. Unfortunately, it turns out that in order for the shiny new gas grill to work, it needs a shiny new propane tank, which the grill people thoughtlessly did not include. (I'm writing a letter). Our cars, however, were smack dab in the middle of the beetle's turf, and since they outnumbered us a bajillion to two, we didn't fancy a rumble. We went inside and ate leftovers instead. The grill will wait for another (beetleless) day.

Finally, around dusk, the fireworks started. We live at the top of a hill, so I can stand on the back porch (my turf) and watch the surrounding neighborhood fireworks below without having to leave the comfort of my home. I love fireworks. Even better, I love watching the neighborhood kids watching the fireworks. The house across the street has multitudes of small children, in varying ages, and joy of joy!, Uncle somebody or other thoughtfully brought them sparklers and bottle rockets and whatnot, and then wisely fled the premises. The children (unsupervised) immediately shot a bottle rocket across the street and onto the brand new roof of the house next door. (Seriously, I think they just finished putting the last shingle on the day before). It smoldered for a while and finally went out without sending the whole house up in flames, but I'm pretty sure that Neighbor Stan now has a brand new scorch mark on his brand new shingles. Three houses down, a father is out on the driveway with his son and daughter. The father is lighting the firework while the girl, roughly 7, instructs him to "cover his ears and move back quickly" in a perfect adult voice mimic (probably her mother's). The first one is one of those screamers that makes an unholy noise as it shoots upwards into the night. The son (about 4 or 5?) shouts "Holy Crap!" as it launches (which is really funny to hear a 5 year old say), but is yelling, "That was awesome!" over and over by the time the thing makes its final pop. (The phrase "That was awesome!" was probably shouted about 400 times within the next hour alone). Thankfully, back at the house of the Unsupervised Bottle Rocket Launchers, the children have run out of bottle rockets, and are now doing interpretive dances in the driveway with the sparklers. The smallest one, whom I have secretly nicknamed Whiny Crybaby, doesn't like the noise of the fireworks booming in the distance, and he's running around screaming like the very hounds of Hell are after him. (Why they don't send him inside, I don't know). I watch the fireworks until about 9:30. When I head inside, Whiny's slightly older sister (5 maybe?) is still out in the driveway with her sparkler, mesmerized with its light as she waves it around, cheering: "Give me a U! Give me a B! Give me a L! Give me a G! Give me a W! (I'm not sure what she was trying to spell, if anything, but everyone knows that letters aren't important when sparklers are involved).

And so ends my 4th of July. Nothing amazing or out of the ordinary, but uniquely American all the same. Thank you founding fathers for committing treason in the name of independence so that I have the freedom to stand on my porch, watch the fireworks, smell other people's hamburgers grilling, and trade gang signs with the June beetles.