Well, a new flag is back up on the grain leg, the yard is mowed and the friends are invited over. It's just about the Fourth of July and although I didn't grow up in a family that did a lot of celebrating – isn't there hay to bale around here? – we try to mark the occasion with friends and fireworks.
Tonight, we'll have ice cream with a few friends before heading into town for fireworks. And tomorrow? Well, tomorrow is a little bigger. There's a Fourth of July tradition in the greater Avon, Illinois, area, and it centers around Bill and Elaine Kramer's back yard. And pasture.
The Kramers are farmers in the Avon area; my husband went to school with their kids and our kids go to school with their grandkids (Hi Mazie! And Nate! And Callie!)
Every year, they invite a couple hundred of their closest friends and family for an evening of food, fun and fireworks on the farm. The conversation is good, with lots of talk of corn and soybeans and weather and family. The kids run around and we don't see them until they're hungry. And the food. My, word, the food. The Kramers provide the meat, and everyone else brings a dish to pile on a tables-long buffet. It's like every recipe out of one of those classic rural cookbooks. Delish.
And then they blow stuff up. Like watermelons (see below). The kids try to catch water balloons, perhaps for a candy prize. Everybody loads up on hay racks for a ride down the road, over the pasture and through the actual woods. Before long, it's dark and the kids collect glow sticks. We all haul our chairs around the barn and past the bins, lining up on the edge of the pasture. (Watch your step. Also, the fence.)
Let me just say, these are not your average fireworks. The local small-town fireworks I mentioned earlier? The Kramer fireworks are every bit as impressive. I hear they may be downgraded a bit this year due to some licensing thing, but I suspect it'll still be a great show.
Regardless, it's a good time. And wherever you might wind up this weekend, wishing you and your family a Happy Independence Day!
Editor's note: Have you tried to email me with the "Email Author' button above? And I didn't respond? I've recently learned that our email server spent the past 18 months or so rejecting any emails that came through that route. Blergh. Technology. And so if you've emailed me and I didn't respond, I'm so sorry! I never saw it! It appears to be fixed, though, so if you have something to say, please try again. And I promise: I'll respond!