Independence Day in Bozeman, Montana 2012

The Fourth of July evokes memories in all of us, and it’s easy to become nostalgic, picturing homegrown parades down the streets of Redwood City, California, or gorging on watermelon and splashing in the pool, sitting on a quilt enjoying a picnic of fried chicken and blueberry turnovers while fire cracks sizzled and popped. There was the time in San Francisco with both my boys still youngsters, at the San Francisco Rowing Club, out on a dock, feet in the Bay, tendrils of fog oozing thicker by the minute and a display worthy of an Emperor’s court burst phantom-like in the soupy skies above. As each series of firecrackers opened in the heavens above us, little Sam clutched my hand tighter. “Will they fall on us?” he wondered aloud. “What’s it like to be hit by sizzling color?” he asked in alarm. I’ve always wondered the same.

Yet, nothing beats today. While the rest of the country swelters, Bozeman is perfection, temperatures exactly right for shorts and a sleeveless top, the bluenss of the sky barely dimmed with sunglasses, wisps of cooling breezes, greens so varied it challenges New Zealand, and an annual backyard-front yard party for a cast of a hundred or so of all ages. Kippy and Dave Sands know how to throw a party, and over the years, they’ve come to “own” the 4th for an evolving and revolving number of folks. Hot dogs, hamburgers, wine, beer, and Dave’s amazing ice cream sundaes. Games on the lawn, children cavorting, flags, and Kippy’s astonishing patriotic outfits. There is something so reassuring about tradition, made more so by the great fortune of living in this country, especially in this state of Montana, and in the paradise called Bozeman. Now, as dusk gives way to night, sitting in my upstairs office, bursts of colors fill the broad skies, cracks and pops reverberate, and the fireworks rain down with joy. It’s time to once again give thanks for country, friends, traditions, celebrations, a perfect hot dog, and to be living here in Bozeman.