Fifth of July
By Grace Schulman
Hot sun again. Coda to last night’s flares
that rose in giant O’s and fell in tears,
a lowd-own blue-note soprano sax blares
"O beautiful," razz for the morning after.
Flags snap in pride but pride flags in the fire
of headline deaths, and high convictions lie
like fizzled-out red crackers on the shore,
now litter for the pick-up volunteers.
Up headland, the tide licks ochre stones
as though to coax their spirit, one by one,
in shallows, to lift up in the clean vapor
still found in road-sign names of English settlers,
and in print of Moses, my great-uncle
who grins at me now, strutting army medals
of World War I, prized early as the first
born here to foreign parents on a past
Fourth of July. O season of sky flashes,
give me instead dim lights of fireflies,
gleaming sea plankton, stars, and bayberry candles
of uncertainty, the rosebush on sand
burning but uncharred. Limits. An old shepherd
ambling across the shore and sniffing driftwood.
With the kids at my in-laws, apaulled and I spent the morning at my great-uncle's 90th birthday party (mother couldn't come because she's in New York with sister; father couldn't come for some reason involving clearing out his office that confused me, as he could very well never see again some of the people at this party, but I know better than to ask questions). It was surprisingly lovely: I like most of the local relatives, my second cousins and their cousins on my great-aunt's side, and though I haven't seen many of my uncle's friends for many years, I had nice conversations with several of them. After brunch everyone got up and reminisced about my uncle, which in this family sometimes turns into a competition -- my mother, uncle and eldest cousin all like to write little rhyming ditties and everyone is always trying to out-vocabulary everyone else, but this was very low-key. And since my parents and sister weren't there, I was the only person present who had really known my grandfather, my great-uncle's older brother, so my aunt and uncle started throwing in their memories of him while I was talking. I talked about going to the beach with them summers and playing Scrabble with them. And the cakes (one chocolate, one strawberry shortcake) were fabulous.
We spent the rest of the day at two concerts: Jennifer Cutting's Ocean Orchestra at the McLean Community Center and Peter Mealy and Laurie Rose Griffith at the Montgomery Village Lawn Theater. Grace Griffith wasn't singing with the former today as her husband apparently was ill, but I wasn't sorry because I love the way Lisa Moscatiello sings "Song for the Night Sea Journey" and "The Water Is Wide" all by herself. They did Jennifer's new song "Waves," plus "Venus" and a bunch of reels and New St. George songs, so even though it was 96 degrees it was a terrific show. We came home for dinner, then drove to Gaithersburg, where we had to walk through Montgomery Village's parkland to reach the stage, meaning there were geese and a heron and cars stopping on the main road to let the fowl waddle across. Peter and Laurie did a mix of their own stuff, Bob Dylan, Bob Matthews, Johnny Mercer, Chris Isaak, Judy Collins and Paul Simon, so it was a lovely concert as well.
They did pretty much the same set as when we saw them a couple of weeks ago, and Jennifer no longer had a cast on her foot so she was higher-energy despite the heat.
Pete and Laurie with bass player Henry Hubbard in Montgomery Village.
It was the kind of concert where the performers were dancing with the kids in front of the stage...
...and there were bubbles being blown and Ring Around the Rosy.
As the sun set, the geese wandered all over the grass.
A heron flew over the electronics shack for the stage.
And, closer to home, we had the Met Life blimp in the neighborhood, presumably covering the AT&T National about which I know nothing except that Tiger Woods didn't win.
I'm still utterly behind on LJ and everyone's news, and I see that Transformers kicked Bruce Willis' ass at the box office...is it that good, or is Live Free or Die Hard that bad? And is it wrong that I was rooting against Transformers a bit because I am so freakin' sick of listening to Kurtzman and Orci go on about a boy and his car as the ultimate American fantasy...I need a movie about a kick-ass woman ASAP, and will go see POTC3 again if necessary. (Am betting that I like POTC3 better than HP5...in fact I suspect that in the end I may like POTC better than HP, period. Though dementordelta pointed out that that A&E preview was on, and OMG Lucius eat my little death!!!) Labyrinth would make a good movie with a kick-ass woman; I finished reading it on July 8th, which is notable for the entirely freaky coincidence (except there are no coincidences in that book) that the epilogue is set on July 8th, 2007! And I had no idea until I flipped the page after the climax of the story! Wasn't overly thrilled with the definition of the Grail, but that was true of Sophy Burnham's The Treasure of Montségur too. The definitive movie-adaptable novel about the Cathars has not yet been written.