Flags & Firecrackers


  • Could be a historic old colonial home on the harbor _ well, not really, but it looks the part, and it is patriotically decked out.  What anyone considers history is always relative anyway.  In some places it is anything over fifty years old, in others a thousand.  At the rate of change in most of the world, something saved from last month or last year should get a historic marker and designation.  Modern civilization is perhaps too adapted to novelty.
  • It’s been a hard acceptance that I myself have slid into historic status.  What I remember is as long gone for younger generations as the roads of Rome or the gardens of Babylon.  Was it really like that, they ask amazed, as I once did to my grandparents.  Sometimes that realization is sad, sometimes I’m just grateful I survived through it all, sometimes it seems irrelevant, sometimes it seems the most important element of my life.  One thing constant through it all, and I hope it remains so for a long time, has been fireworks and picnics on the Fourth of July.


  • Little flags pop up like mushrooms now.  Maybe it’s a universal human trait. Switch the language on the sign, substitute the national colors of your choice, and this could be anywhere in Europe in the last two centuries.  The whole phenomenon is endearing until it suddenly turns virulent.  A difficult balance.
  • Difficult balance is what life is all about.  Tension between overpopulation and extinction, tension between homeostatic systems like blood pressure and temperature, tension between social freedom and security.  Irresolvable contradictions somehow leading to temporary dynamic situations that manage to continue on.  At this time and place, from my viewpoint, little flags are terrific decoration and symbolic of a mostly good outlook on life.   


  • Of course, just because the indigenous flowers are less on display does not prevent cultivated varieties from their own ostentatious celebration.  These lilies are in full glory right now, as are many exotic species which most people have added to tiny microenvironments around their house.  It’s amazing how people like to keep their grounds beautiful, even in a culture that rarely prizes beauty in and of itself.  Easier and more rewarding to simply accept that people like to decorate their homes than to worry about the evolutionary or cosmic reasons why that should be so.
  • In some minds, this flower bed would be far better stripped and pulled back into climax forest.  I can’t help but think of those as Luddites,  futilely railing against change.  I would not like these flowers replaced by gloom, ferns, and mosquitoes _ there’s quite enough of that in the Adirondacks and Catskills.  I admire the intense joy emitted by these blooms and others like them, the feeling that others do care greatly about living things, the realization that even during the most rational of barren economic ideologies we engage in pure pointless showmanship because we enjoy it. 


  • As this drying dock weed illustrates, grand fireworks of native flowers are pretty much over.  Trees have bloomed, meadows are no long swathed in color.  There will be plenty of isolated flowers and fruits from here on, but everything is racing to grow as quickly as possible.  The world is engulfed in green, except where cultivated in gardens.  Insects have their own rhythms, last night for the first time numerous lightning bugs arose spontaneously from the lawn as twilight deepened.
  • I’ve been privileged over the last few years to be fully engaged in local seasons.  Nature is completely enchanting and fulfilling when we can pay enough attention to it.  Fortunately, I can still be astonished at the perfection of a bee visiting a purple clover, or a dragonfly flitting over a pond, elements which now come into their own until fall once again dictates major change.


  • Thermometer in the eighties,  fine firm wind, brilliant sky, schools empty, but only a few sails, one big, one small.  In fact, the harbor this late morning is surprisingly empty on the waters, although the sand has quite a crowd.  No matter, a fine, colorful and quiet activity out there, to celebrate being alive and aware.
  • Perhaps everyone else is off worrying about far-away Greece or China,  or equally distant Christmas sales.  More likely, they have decided to wait for next week to declare summer holiday.  In the meantime, a wee bit desperate, I seize on anything I might fit into my definitions, a modern Humpty-Dumpty.   Stretching the definition of flag, perhaps, but colored cloth is colored cloth.  Of course, by that token bathing suits and other apparel should count as well.  


  • Original Impressionists loved to show flags in their landscapes, seascapes, and townscapes.  It was an opportunity to add dashes of pure vibrant colors to their otherwise sparkling but pastel palette.  France was apparently chock full of flag displays at the end of the nineteenth century.  Every summer, Huntington harbor also brightens up with bits of cloth flying everywhere.
  • Sometimes a theme doesn’t work out well.  For some reason, the usual pennants festooning the boats remain in storage this year _ for that matter I’ve only seen one or two sailboats.  Since I can’t very well photograph the firecrackers sounding each evening, and my camera will not capture fireflies or fireworks, finding something to say may tax my inventive powers.  On the other hand, my mouth often outpaces my brain, so all may be well.


  • Continuing alliteration:  _ first Fourth festivals fizzle.  Watching California and the West in drought, living where the rain falls frequently and plentifully from the sky seems a pretty good deal.  It certainly hasn’t hampered the efforts of these young folks fishing.
  • I welcome clouds, rain, mist, snow, fog as magical costumes on the normally clear and bright landscape.  Perhaps that is just a rationalization, an acceptance of the inevitable, but I honestly like such variation.  Even in this season, when every day is a fabulous holiday different from the one before in almost every way, I find special details such as the drops of rain hanging on the day lilies profoundly entertaining.  I also feel sorry for those who do not have the time, resources, inclination, or wisdom to do so.

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