When I was a child we spent the Fourth of July at our cousin’s farm in a neighboring town. Everyone in our extended family, from the oldest to the very youngest, was part of it and while the adults sat in lawn chairs under the tree that cast the most amount of shade, my cousins and I explored the farm with us city kids helping with the chores like gathering eggs and watching my uncle milk his cows and shoot a steady stream of the warm milk straight from the udder to the barn cats who would happily lick their whiskers to catch every last drop. A pickup game of softball with the corn cribs as the backstop was always part of the day with the adults joining in the fun.
After we had worked off our excess energy it was back up the hill for lunch where we were greeted with a table laden with hot dogs, burgers, corn on the cob, tomatoes and cucumbers, watermelon, Rice Krispie bars, brownies and more. If we were really lucky, Grandpa would make homemade ice cream filled with eggs and fresh cream churned by hand in one of those old fashioned hand churns I would give anything to have these days. As each of us kids devoured our scoop, Grandpa would put on a heavy winter parka and enjoy his own hard earned bowl, shivering in spite of the heat and his warm coat.
Their town had their own fireworks show but my Dad always had to get up super early so more often than not we said our goodbyes to the cousins and headed home just as the sun was setting. Disappointed at first, we soon remembered not all was lost. Our faces pressed to the car windows as we drove down the highway, we watched for the fireworks that appeared magically in the night sky off in the distance while “ooh’s” and “ahhs” escaped our collective lips in the back seat.
It was the same every year for decades but as we have grown and expanded our own families, my siblings and cousins have developed their own traditions and the Fourth of July at the farm is no longer. I will always remember and long for the simple enjoyment of those days and hope that you too have special family memories to remember.
Happy Fourth of July!