Fourth of July in a small town

Posted on July 4, 2010


I am burned to a crisp and unaccountably came home with a t-shirt dress with a wolf on it. Really, it doesn’t get any better than this. Not if you want to understand us as we really are when we’re at home. Not if you want to remember the summers of your childhood.

Over in Central Lake people staked out every inch of Main Street and waited for the Fourth of July parade to begin. I was in the staging area in front of the Blue Pelican, where every vehicle in the Fire Department was polished to a fare-thee-well, decked out in flags, and parked in a shiny row.

That tiny cabin at the end of the long red line? It’s a real log cabin, moved from the Cary homestead into town and reassembled to serve as a museum. I am fond of Cary’s Cabin.

The veterans were getting organized, banners fluttering.

The Grand Marshall and Citizen of the Year were ready.

Sheriff Dan Bean was all buffed and pressed and full of good humor.  With a whoop-whoop of his department’s sirens, the parade began.

First came the veterans and the Color Guard, as is proper. Everyone scrambled out of their lawn chairs and stood up, and then everyone began to applaud. Not that polite tap-tap that we do when we feel we should show some respect, and not the woo-hoo thundering that we do in a sports arena, but a sustained clapping that went on and on in waves, like the grain moving in the field, or the Big Lake washing the shore, or the wind flowing through the pines. Like our flag billowing from its standard.

Then, in our glorious goofiness and astonishing variety, we paraded. We tossed candy and carnival beads and balloons and beachballs from the floats.

If we were little kids, we caught those things, or chased them all over the street.

There were an astonishing number of beautiful children in Central Lake today.

The family farm may have gone the way of the passenger pigeon in other places, but in Antrim County, Michigan, a lot of us farm the land our great-grandparents farmed. Growing food is still an important part of who we are. We buffed up our tractors and proceeded in stately fashion down Main Street.

We love our cars, too, especially the seriously cool ones.

Homegrown churches are an important feature of life in Antrim County. There were floats from the 126 year old First Congregational Church, the 111 year old Snowflake Spiritualist Camp (about which much more in another post soon), and the Bible Baptist Church, whose age I do not know. Central Lake Church Ladies of whatever denomination are a determined and forceful lot.

Whatever the church ladies don’t get done, the service organizations do: Rotary, the Lions, the VFW, the Shriners.

We watched them all, waved at the neighbors, caught beachballs, wiped sweat out of our eyes. Then it was time to go home and fire up the grill.

The parade was over. It was going to take a long time to extract my car, so I went to see how things were going at the Treasure Chest (very well indeed, and more about that in another post) and at Bachmann’s, where it turns out that not only do they have anything you really need, but they have things you probably don’t strictly speaking need but are inclined to buy anyway. Thus the wolf dress. I wonder if it will clash with the cat bag?

I’m going to go put sunburn cream on myself and go to bed with a dumb book.

I took many more pictures, and sometime tomorrow I will put them on slideshows and give you links below so that if you are from Around Here you can look for ones of you, or your cute little kid, or your neighbor, or your bright orange Kuboda. If I had a cellphone that was worth a hoot I’d have posted the sounds of the parade. Ah well. Next year.