From Pipi’s Pasture: Independence Days of years past
The Fourth of July is here already, and with it come the memories of holidays of years past.
When my siblings and I were growing up on the ranch, the holiday came at a busy time. The cattle had just been put out on summer pasture, which meant moving them to the national forest where we had a grazing permit. The cattle from our uncles’ ranches and those from at least one neighbor were moved up there, too, and all of the ranchers helped each other so turning out the cattle took several days.
So after the cattle were turned out, the ranchers went right to haying. It was July 4 by then. The morning of the Fourth, Dad went to the hayfield to start cutting. We stayed home and did chores around the house, sometimes weeding the garden. I especially remember the garden because there were lots of rows and they were long. The hoeing went on forever — and on the Fourth of July, too.
So we didn’t go anywhere — not even to the fireworks. We didn’t have any fireworks at home, either. For one thing, we didn’t have much money. For another, Dad and Mom thought fireworks were dangerous, and there was always was a danger of fire.
But what we did have for the Fourth was a delicious supper, which may have included fried chicken and homemade ice cream with fresh strawberries from the strawberry bed next to the house.
In later years, when I was in college, the family sometimes took the day off and attended the rodeo and other festivities in Meeker.
I remember best the years that Lyle and I and our two boys lived at Severance, near Greeley. When Jody and Jamie were elementary school ages, they saved their money and when the Fourth of July was near, we took them to a fireworks stand where they spent what seemed to be hours choosing small fireworks that could safely be lit in our backyard. Perhaps the choosing was the most fun.
Then until the Fourth, the boys took their fireworks out of the paper bags and set them out on the table where they looked them over—and over.
On a night before the big day we went out to the backyard. I sat on the back step and comforted Jody’s dog, Benji, as he shivered in fear. Lyle helped the boys light the fireworks. There were charcoal-looking snakes, sparklers, little fountains, some that spun around, and others. At the end they lit special cardboard tanks, cars, and airplanes that had firework components built inside. Afterwards, they kept the cardboard pieces. We all enjoyed these family fireworks nights.
On the Fourth, we attended the parade in Greeley, had a picnic supper with a friend in Fort Collins and went to the Fort Collins City Park to watch the fireworks that were lit off over the lake. We spread our blanket on the ground and put on our jackets because it was always cold around the lake.
Have a wonderful Fourth of July, making your own memories!
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