For three years in a row, I spent my July 4th weekend in the Adirondacks. A friend’s family had a house there, with room for everyone and their dogs to roam around the grounds.
For fun, we hiked, swam in ponds, and watched the dogs sniff at things and chomp at mosquitoes. We drank many cups of coffee on the porch, staring out at the High Peaks, not wondering what the time was. Something about that view and the hiking I did there was part of why I moved west. I loved the mountains, and I wanted them in my life in a more casual way.
We went to the Ausable Club for fireworks, which opened its golf course to the public and put on a show. As could be expected from a country club in a mountainous vacation region, there was a certain Waspiness to the place. On the khakis of the teenage boys, there were embroidered lobsters. On the walls of the main hall, where guests were politely discouraged from using the restroom, there were antlers. Still, the club invited the whole town to run barefoot up and down the 14th hole of its golf course and play bocce ball on the putting green. It was a nice thing the club did, letting us all sneak in to enjoy a summer dusk on its golf course and then giving us fireworks.
The last time I was there, I chatted with an older woman from Boston who said this had been her 23rd time at the fireworks. I wanted to have a number like that, proof of some joyful continuity in my life. I believe we left the conversation saying we would see each other next year.
Like New Year’s, July 4th is a day where you don’t need to be anywhere, but are still aware of where you end up. I didn’t see that woman the following year; I haven’t been to the Adirondacks since I moved to Colorado. This year, for the second July 4th in a row, I’ll be doing a 14er, which is a mountain above 14,000 feet in Colorado. I’d like to do a 14er next year, but I’m aware that July 4th is a holiday where traditions are easy to start and hard to maintain. Joyful continuity is a lot to ask for, and if I had to choose between the two, I’d pick joy.