Often, I don't feel like summer really begins until after the Fourth of July.
Maybe that's because Lake Superior is too cold to do more than jump into for five seconds any earlier than that. But that water is warm this year, and the Fourth has just passed, so that must mean summer is here, and since the start of June I've been reveling in the long day-ed, mosquito bite-y, sticky fresh fruit-ish, warm weathered gloriousness of it all.
Even though I'm working a full-time job and don't technically have the entire summer off like I did when I was in school, there's something different about a summer weekend or evening off than there is about one during the spring, fall or winter. That's probably the illusion of it "not being that late" because of the longer days, which is wreaking havoc on my sleep schedule.
While Christmas remains my all-time favorite holiday, I really do love the Fourth of July. I like being able to celebrate my country and the things that make it great, even though I might disagree with things that happen or policies that get enacted. It's fun to be part of a crowd cheering on a parade, standing as the American flag goes past, or ooing and ahing over the fireworks at the end of the night.
This year, my Fourth of July started with a march through Ishpeming to participate in the parade as part of the Negaunee City Band. Much like going for a long run in hot weather, the key to finishing a parade clad in a dark-colored wool uniform in a positive frame of mind (or running back to the start of the parade to play through again with a different group as some of my more crazy - I mean dedicated - friends do) is adequate hydration. Having consumed my body weight in water before the start of the parade, I ended with nothing more than a sopping wet shirt and a tremendous urge to visit the little girls' room.
Post Ishpeming parade - which had an impressive variety of entries this year, judging from what I saw after I stopped marching - I headed back down to Marquette to take in the Marquette parade with my dad.
The Fourth of July is also my dad's birthday, so we always joke that he gets a parade and fireworks as part of his party every year. That means our usual Independence Day celebration doubles as a party for him, this year with grilling and red, white and blue shortcake instead of birthday cake.
Trying to work off the stomach-full of food, we headed down to the Marquette Lower Harbor just in time for the thunderstorm to start. We braved the rain and admired the lightning show, but called it a night before the start of the fireworks.
Oddly, that same thunderstorm that chased us away from the Marquette fireworks allowed me to go see the Ishpeming fireworks for the first time, as they were postponed until Thursday. Although nothing beats watching a fireworks display with my family beside me, the Ishpeming fireworks were every bit as impressive as previous Marquette shows I have seen.
Overall, I hope the rest of the summer proves to be as successful as the first part has been.
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.