From Pipi’s Pasture: Remembering the Fourth of July
June 28, 2018
When my siblings and I were growing up on the ranch, we were busy with work all the time, including the Fourth of July. By the Fourth, the cattle had been moved to the forest, where they would spend the summer. And the day after they were moved, usually the Fourth of July, the hay crop was blooming and ready to cut. So, Dad hooked up the mower and started cutting.
I'm guessing that I'm remembering a time when I was about 10. There was no parade, rodeo or fireworks for us. Mom, my sisters and I worked all day, too, in the huge garden that provided us with all our vegetables for winter. As a reward and way of celebration, Mom cooked up a festive supper. We usually had fried chicken and, sometimes, homemade ice cream with fresh strawberries.
I can remember secretly hoping Dad might miraculously come up from the hayfield and suggest we go into town to watch the fireworks. After all, our cousins and friends always got to go. But it never happened. In fact, Dad didn't usually come to the house until it was almost dark. However, I don't remember that we ever complained or cried. We understood that the hay had to be cut in case the rains started — and in those days, we sometimes got rains that lasted for a few days.
The years passed, and I had my own family. We lived on the Eastern Slope when they were kids. Our home was at Severance, between Fort Collins and Greeley. So it wasn't unusual for us to attend the Greeley Stampede Fourth of July Parade, then spend the evening in Fort Collins. We always had an evening meal with Grandma Downs, an adopted grandma friend of ours. When it was dusk, we drove to the Fort Collins park, where the fireworks show was put on around the lake.
What I remember most about the fireworks was how chilly it was by the lake. We wore jackets and sometimes covered up with a blanket. Then, when the fireworks were over, we walked back down the hill to hot temperatures once again.
Our boys always bought legal fireworks at the fireworks stands. They spent what seemed like hours looking over all of the items, trying to decide what to buy. I understood. When I was a kid, we were not allowed to have fireworks. I was as intrigued with the merchandise as they were.
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At home, I sat on the back porch steps, watching Lyle help the boys light their legal fireworks. There were sparklers, little fountains, little buttons that spun around and even some specialty items, like cardboard tanks that spewed sparks. Jody's dog Benji sat between my legs, shivering.
And now, we come to 2018. Our children and grandchildren have grown up, and we have a new great grandson.
Time to build new traditions and memories.