Just about every other year Mom’s side of the family would make the trek in July to a familiar spot in the Southeast United States — Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. This would be the first time hubby and I joined them.
During the day, we’d bask in the crystal waters and bake our Midwestern ivory skin in the hot sun.
On the Fourth of July, the family pulled together their culinary skills. A cookout was inevitable with all the regular holiday fixins’ – BBQ’d burgers and hot dogs, potato salad, coleslaw, and a red white and blue cake (with sparklers).
After dinner and cleanup, we gazed upward as the sky turned a cornflower blue to a blue violet hue. We collected our beach chairs and loungers, and drug them to a comfy spot on the sand in anticipation of the spectacular show awaiting us.
The stunning view of fireworks lit up the night sky — Destin in one direction, and Seaside from the other. There were rosettes, stars and fish designs high in the atmosphere. And the colors — neon green, gold and cranberry red. Phenomenal.
My second cousin, Matt, brought his own fireworks — four grocery bags worth. He said he’d ‘got a good deal’ for the whole shebang by trading pizzas for them. He used to manage a pizza joint back home.
Well, I wished I’d brought a protective suit to wear. No tellin’ what direction those noisemakers were headed. Satellite launchers and cone fountains dive- bombed the beach. No ankle, eye, or armpit was safe.
I laughed hard. And wished I’d brought a Depends!
After the display (which took close to two hours), we collected debris from the beach. Grabbing a cold beverage from the cooler, we settled into our chairs. The adults watched as the kids spun sparklers in perfect circles. Others (including me) made cool patterns by placing sparklers strategically in the sand.
We talked. We shared. We laughed.
At evening’s close, one by one, we retreated back to the security of our rental condos like tiny hermit crabs.
Since then, the family dynamic has changed in more ways than one. As I think about that day, I realize it was the ‘best’ Fourth of July. Many elements made up that fun and zany memory.
The beach. The fireworks. The sky.