As a child, I spent almost every 4th of July on the east coast with my grandparents. My grandfather was the star of the day. He was a master story teller and would share amazing ones about the fireworks and wild homemade (explosive) recipes from his youth. We'd always make some paper poppers, as I plan to do today with my own kids... who doesn't love a little noise and some simple paper folding magic! Then he'd go off to gather a small handful of firecrackers and two cherry bombs to set off with me in the driveway. I remember the feeling of the tiny stones under my bare feet as I'd dash away for safety, holding my hands over my ears and laughing the whole way. There were always sparklers for me at the very end, and then my grandmother would call us in for dinner, which inevitably was filled with fresh vegetables straight from the garden my grandfather so lovingly tended all summer long.
My Papadaddy in his garden circa early 80's
It was with this flood of memories that filled my heart as I worked in my own garden yesterday while he recovered from surgery. Two days ago my grandfather fell and broke his hip. At 94 years old, in the late stages of Alzheimer's, this was devastating for my whole family. I'm so grateful that so far he's doing well, and I will continue to honor him and be close to him by doing the work he taught me. Planting my second rotation of green beans was done with my grandfather at my side, and later today we'll harvest our first zucchini of the season for dinner. I have the sparklers ready, bought at an old fashioned toy store in Vermont on my way home from Squam. When the sun has completely set, jars are waiting for the the true fireworks of July... the temporary capture of tiny lightning bugs. Sweet memories being reinvented with my own children, because if there's one thing both my grandparents taught me about happiness: