Barefoot, running over tam-bark and gravel, hard baked dirt and crabgrass, jumping through the sprinkler every now and then, laying down on the warm sidewalk to dry off.
Pushing through a blackberry thicket, same bare feet, short sleeves, shorts, climbing to the top of a cherry tree and down again. Around the back of the house, the smell of busted oranges mixed with the aroma of bbq’d chicken, boiling crawdads, frying hush puppies, black eyed peas with bacon, corn…on the cob, wrapped in foil with butter, apple pie coming out of the oven. Aunt Patty making iced tea, five gallons of it, all of the older girls cutting lemons for lemonade. Papa turning the handle on one ice cream bucket, Uncle Charlie, working the other, licking rock salt off our palms. Mamma making biscuits and the boys spitting watermelon seeds at each other. Everyone ready to eat, everyone waiting for dusk.
Fed then, climbing into lawn chairs, blankets, driving down to the football field or the edge of town, kicking up dust all the way.
Woo HOO! and Yeeee- Haaawwww! Sitting across the street on the wide grass strip between the creek and the road, looking up, searching for the first star, for Venus, anticipating. Lighting sparklers, dancing in the fading light, turning around leaping, laughing, sunburned, the toads and crickets singing a song perfectly without rhythm until the first POP, WHIZ, BANG…hush… awe… Settling down, spellbound, waiting for the next one, artificial lightning, showered rainbows and star bursts, the crackles of freedom, the memories and innocence of youth.
Happy 4th of July.