Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

Happy (Belated) Fourth of July

Posted on | July 22, 2010 | No Comments

Guess what else I found?  My pictures from the Fourth of July!  I love the Fourth of July.  We go to the same small town parade every year.  By small town, I mean we drive 20 miles out into the country from our rural community to theirs.  That’s small.

The parade starts at the center of town.  Which consists of a gas station and a stop sign.  Not a fancy gas station with a fast food chain inside.  Not even one with automatic doors.  Nope.  This is the kind of gas station where the old folks stand next to their vehicle, smoking a cigarette, and chatting with their neighbor while filling up their tank.  Old School.

The parking area for parade goers is clearly marked.  With this barn.  I don’t know who owns this field and barn.  But every year, he mows the field right up by the road so people can park and walk to the gas station.  He doesn’t charge for it.  He doesn’t put up signs that say “Free Parking.”  He just mows it nice and neat and lets people figure it out.  Which we do.  Thank you.

There’s no entry fee or registration for the parade either.  If you want to be in the parade, you just line up at the volunteer fire department an hour before start time.  That’s all.  No liability release form needed.

The parade starts with a color guard and a local woman who sings the national anthem.  Every one stands for the flag.  Everyone.  No one talks to the person next to them or texts on their cell or jokes around during the anthem.  We just stand, with hands over our hearts, and remember those who have enabled us to live free.  People even remove their hats.

And then the real fun starts.   Which, for my kids, involves the candy being thrown by the parade entrants.  This is one of the only parades left in a 3 county area where the people on floats throw candy to the kids.  I don’t know why it became against the rules of parade etiquette.  Obesity epidemic?  Lawsuits from people who got hit in the eye by a piece of candy?  I can’t imagine.  But country kids spend too much time climbing the hay bales in the barn and hauling buckets of water to the livestock to be worried about the calories in a few Jolly Ranchers and Tootsie Rolls.  And we don’t sue each other over a piece of candy in the eye.  We laugh and say, “Heads up next time, Junior!”

But the kids aren’t just on the sidelines.  The parade is filled with kids.  Driving all sorts of vehicles.  Without an adult on board.  Without a license.  Or a helmet.  And we all smile and wave and take their picture while thinking,  “Aren’t they cute?”  instead of  thinking, “Isn’t that dangerous?”  That’s just the way we roll.

Besides, the adults are too busy showing off their own mechanisms of travel. Some of these tractors were owned by the driver’s great-great-grandfather.  And have been in this parade since the very first one was held.

These old cars have been worked on all through the winter months, when the farm chores are crammed into the short days and the farmers are free to bend under the hood during the long evenings of darkness.

The professionals get a chance to strut their stuff, too.  There’s a fire truck or emergency services vehicle in the parade from almost every small town within 30 miles.  The kids don’t cry or cover their ears when the sirens start to wail as the trucks creep through the intersection.  No, sirree.  The kids clap and cheer and yell “Turn it up, Uncle Joe!”  The adults nod their heads in approval.  After all, it took 22 bake sales, 4 love offerings, a community yard sale, and a dunking booth to raise money for that pumper truck.  Let ‘er rip!

This year we even had the chief of police from a nearby city show up in the parade.  Which was surprising, because the last time he was driving around his city in a marked police car, one of the residents shot at him, and a bullet went through the windshield.  I’m not making that up.  It really happened.  That stuff happens in the city.  But no one shot at him way out here.  Which isn’t to say the country folks aren’t packing heat.  Gun racks are not for decoration around here.  They just aren’t used for drive-bys.

In the end, the horses come through.  They always come last.  I’m sure you know why.  But they aren’t followed by a crew of pooper scoopers like they are in most parades.  Country folks don’t get e coli just from looking at a pile of manure like city folks do.  So the droppings are left where they are, well, dropped, and we all head over to the Grange Hall.

There’s always a huge fish fry at the Grange Hall after the parade.  Everyone from church will be there.  We even pray before we eat.  God Bless America.

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