The pursuit of life, liberty, and a dry place to sit.

July 3, 2012 at 4:23 pm Leave a comment

The 4th of July always conjures up very specific childhood memories for me.  Dancing in the front yard of our tiny green house at dusk, sparklers and fireflies dancing through the air.  My North Carolina cousins – here for their biannual visit – gleefully and somewhat criminally blowing stuff up in the culvert outside our grandparents’ house.  Family picnics, tables loaded down with hamburgers and hot dogs and Mom’s potato salad made of mustardy goodness.

But when my family reminisces about 4th of July, one story must be repeated every year.  When I was a tween / teen, we were regular attendees at the annual Wichita bash, held at the WSU football stadium.  The evening promised concerts, topped off by a breathtaking fireworks show coordinated with swelling, patriotic music.

It was always a highlight of my year.

We chose different places to sit every year.  One year, we sat in the bleachers.  Another year, we sat in the grassy knoll, dragging our lawn chairs and coolers and blankets with us.  I preferred the grassy area, where I could watch the fireworks from a prone position, chin propped in hand.  

You always had to get there early, in order to ensure a good spot.  The year I was 12 – or maybe 13 or 14, I’m not sure – we chose to sit in the grass.  We staked our claim early in the evening, the sun still blazing overhead.  Music was starting, and fireworks were still several hours away.  

We sat.  We waited.  We people watched.  And as we sat, an unclaimed area of grass next to us slowly began to rise.  And rise.  And rise.  

It was as if aliens were surfacing from under the ground.  The grass rose higher and higher; a bubble of dirt formed.  

And then, the bubble burst forth with water.  Not a trickle, but a rush of water that worked its way into a fast-flowing current, down the slope into the crowd of lawn chairs and coolers and blankets.

It seemed that a water line had burst, stressed beyond capacity by the demand of all those toilets flushing.  Before it burst, the pressure in the line made the ground rise.  It created the illusion that we were being invaded from below, like something from a sci-fi movie.

And now, every time my family talks about the 4th of July, we have to tell the story.  I don’t remember any other specific details from those events; most of my memories have been downgraded to a general feeling.  

Yet I still remember the year the ground rose.

Entry filed under: Life in general.

Now which box did I pack the kids in? Read this book!

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