The 4th of July tends to rouse a certain nostalgia for me. Its a childhood thing… days of sun drenched bliss, playing in the crisp, frothy ocean water in Maine, chasing fireflies in the evening, the scent of beach roses and sun lotion… summer. Evenings spent husking corn and licking popsicle juice from a twin pop, penny candy and sparklers.
These were the days.
It probably never occurred to me that my parents were frazzled readying themselves for inevitable August company. The fourth of July was ours… the beginning of summer, and the promise of more of a good thing. I remember a lawn in front of a church in the center of town that rolled its way to the river. On the 4th of July families and tourists alike dragged their picnic hampers, blankets, drinks and kids to this sort of tailgate party-meets concert picnic celebration. There was always a band of some sort, and a gaggle of kids getting screamed at for stepping on the picnic spreads of others. When the sun set, and the kids had been collected, came the anticipated sizzle and pop of the town’s fireworks. Were they grand….no, but they were predictable, sometimes even remarkably terrible. It was all part of the fun.
Today when I take my kids to see the fireworks on the 4th, I still get pangs of nostalgia. As we crowd onto an old blanket at the beach eating drippy ice-cream, and the snap and sizzle of the first firework bursts…I am reminded that good traditions never fizzle. The archetypal flag cake and the red, white and blue, matching summer outfits have always been someone else’s Fourth. For me the Fourth is about making new memories, and sort of throwing it all together…never magazine “ready”, predictably imperfect, just old fashioned and fun. Sara Gott
Spring may end on the 20th of June but for me, summer truly begins when bouquets of color and light fill the night sky. The 4th of July is a time to celebrate our nation’s independence from the old country but in all reality, it’s a time to celebrate the months ahead of dining outdoors, farmers’ markets, and long days at the beach.
I love to celebrate the 4th and summer with a Mai Tai. One may question what a cocktail inspired by a small country in Southeast Asia has to do with the Thirteen Colonies separating from Britain. It may seem more apropos to concoct a Cape Coder or pop the top of a Sam Adams brew. The Mai tai, actually born in Oakland, CA in 1944, is raised to honor my grandfather, who was also born on the 4th of July. The fall after he passed away, I traveled to his home on Old Cape Cod to clean out my grandmother’s kitchen. Hiding behind the spice rack was Orgeat, triple sec, rum, and the carefully written out recipe for the Mai Tai cocktail. I don’t recall a 4th of July celebration passing by without a Mai Tai highball in his hand. “Here’s to you Grandpa!”
Jessica’s Mai Tai
1 oz fresh lime juice
1 oz Orgeat (almond syrup)
1 oz Triple sec
4 oz Bacardi rum
Shake in a mixer with 6 ice cubes. Serve in highball. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs. Makes two drinks.
(I like to add a floater of Myers Rum)
There’s something about the Fourth of July, especially in New England, that seems to bring people together. Streets appear cleaner, houses don their finest patriotic bunting, and American flags fly proudly in preparation for the culmination of the day: The highly anticipated fireworks extravaganza! It’s probably the only American holiday where wearing as much red, white, and blue clothing as possible (bonus points for sequins) is not looked upon as odd.
Warm days lead to cool nights here along the Northern Atlantic coast and typically require a light sweatshirt over our just slightly toasted, sun-exposed skin. A convivial gathering of friends and family convene around a crackling bonfire fueled by soft pitchy Maine pine and mineral-soaked drift wood. We flock to enjoy my mother’s abundant antipasti platter artfully decorated with pickled garden vegetables, artisan meats and cheeses, and crusty bread, that when broken into provides us with our own private pyrotechnic display, sending shards of its deep, golden flakey crust into the air with each tear.
It’s my absolute favorite time of day. Dusk, that brief moment just after sunset but before twilight. At any moments the fireworks display will …….OOOOH! AAHHH…..
I am a New England girl through and through and don’t think I could experience Fourth of July anywhere else.
July 4th begins the season of what we like to call “4 o’clock times” – those sweet hours in the late afternoon, just before dinner, when you get in from the beach, slightly sunburned and tired. You shower, brush your wet hair, and throw on a soft shirt to get to the kitchen to fix up a cool drink.
Its the time when lemonade tastes its best; its sweet, tartness quenches and satisfies. Its that time when everyday life has that twinkle of vacation-like magic.
The sunlight is still strong and dining on the porch beckons. Planning for dinner becomes fun, and serving up sweet corn and salted butter with a plate of tomatoes dressed with oil and vinegar, makes a full meal.
This season is short in Maine. This of us who live here guard this time and try our hardest to stay put – reserving our out-of-state travel for the times in the year when color is bleak and temperatures are cold. July marks the warmth that sees our vegetables grow and when our schedules become less rigid.
The beaches are filled and its easy to start our days based on the tides.
We love this about summer.
Kristin Fuhrmann Simmons