Usually, after the Catonsville Parade is over with, Jen and I spend the evening recovering from heat prostration in the comfort of air conditioning, with eight or nine beers each. It’s usually at this time that we make solemn promises to each other that we will NEVER do the parade party again, because of the ever increasing preparation time it takes and the triple-digit heat that always accompanies Independence Day. (Jen wryly pointed out that our prep time increases with the addition of completed rooms in the house. By my calculations, when the whole house is finished, it will take us 364 days to get the place ready for the parade, and then the whole mess will start over again the following day.)
Somewhere around Thanksgiving we start talking about it again, and by Christmas we’ve forgotten our promises and begun making lists. Then, somewhere around the middle of June, she pokes me and asks if I’ve remembered that it’s bearing down on us like a crazed rhinoceros. I give her a look of dazed panic, she gives me the oh-for-the-love-of-GOD-you’re-daft look, and we start preparing.
This year’s celebration was a departure from years past on several fronts. The first crucial difference was that we decided not to make so much food: we bought burgers, dogs, and buns, and made a gallon or two of guacamole. And that was it. In years past, we’ve been cutting and mixing and baking up until the sirens start up outside, which usually means we’re hosed.
The second difference was that it was a balmy 85° which made human life tolerable. In years past, after having busted ass for the week leading up to the party, by the time the floats have disappeared and the crowds have dispersed, most of our guests are arranging transport to local hospitals for treatment of heat exhaustion. This year we had a thunderstorm which punctuated the end of the parade, cooled everyone down, and washed away plans for the local fireworks display. That was kind of a drag—we’d been hoping we could convince some friends to check it out with us.
Taking full advantage of the weather and the rain date, last night we packed a bag with water, a blanket, camera gear, and bug spray, and set up a spot on the grounds of the Children’s Home of Catonsville to view the spectacle. The field was covered with families, children, dogs, and hooligans lighting off bargain fireworks, so we figured we were in good shape. However, as the official display began, we realized our vantage spot was behind too many trees (they weren’t shooting them very high, either) and we hiked down the street to camp out in front of someone’s house, where the view was much better. I’m proud to say I didn’t spend the entire time behind the lens of my camera, even though I snapped about fifty shots; somewhere in the last 3/4 of the show I leaned over and gave my wife a kiss as the colors lit her face full of wonder and beauty.