Sunday, July 5, 2009

Our Fourth

The KintlaLake family's Independence Day was split between home and away. It began with a perfunctory trip to Newark and ended with a celebration of freedom in our own community.

I'll start with the latter.

We returned from our road trip mid-afternoon and fired up the grill. After a satisfying meal of flatiron steak, skillet potatoes, sweet corn and strawberry shortcake, we made the three-minute drive to the village, arriving just in time for the 4th of July parade.

There's nothing so quintessentially American a small-town parade. Ours led off with the colors, of course, followed by an impressive display of public-safety force -- gleaming police and fire vehicles, both local and from as far away as Columbus.

This rural-suburban town has two high schools, so we were treated to a pair of marching bands. There were Cub Scout packs and Boy Scout troops, public officials and candidates for office, dance studios and animal-welfare organizations. Many of the paraders tossed candy to young spectators lining the curbs.

Near the end, our county's sheriff and his wife waved to the crowd. They strolled along between an early-1960s Ford police cruiser and the department's brand-new APC equipped for S.W.A.T. duty.

From a speaker under the grille of the vintage black-and-white blared the theme from Mayberry RFD. You just gotta love that.

A light rain fell on the procession, dampening citizens but not spirits. We did wonder, however, if wet weather would threaten the fireworks planned for later on that evening.

My wife and I decided to head back home, leaving our teenage spawns to socialize with friends. Although the rain continued, around 9pm we saw a flash over the tree line and heard the first BOOM! -- the show went on after all.

Oblivious to the drizzle, Mrs. KintlaLake and I watched from our front lawn, fetching the young'uns shortly after the finale.

That was the second half of our Fourth. Rewind now to 11am, when our family of four piled into the truck for a drive to Newark.

The purpose of our trip, as it turned out, didn't materialize. We made the best of it, though, taking the opportunity to stop at nearby Slone's, the funky knife store mentioned in a previous post.

Each of us found a sharp bargain we couldn't resist. My wife, who's been looking for a small fixed-blade for everyday carry, was particularly enamored with a new-in-box Marble's Caper with DymondWood scales, and she left the store with this sweet little knife tucked under her arm.

Our last stop was a big outdoor-sports retailer in Hebron, where Mrs. KintlaLake wanted to explore concealed-carry options. Unable to find what she was looking for, she tugged me toward the knives counter -- I love this woman -- to ask me about something she'd seen when passing the display earlier.

She bent down and pointed through the glass at a small fixed-blade knife with handles of birdseye maple. It was a Hess, handmade in Michigan and the second caper she'd fallen in love with that day.

A helpful member of the store's staff brought it out of the showcase and set it on the counter. I watched my wife's expression as she turned it over in her hands, trying various grips and feeling the smooth wood warm to her touch. I chuckled to myself, knowing full well that she was hopelessly hooked.

I've been there, many times.

To make a long story short, that beautiful Hess Caper is hers. And the upshot of her caper caper is that the sweet little Marble's now belongs to her husband.

An hour later we were home again, preparing to feast and celebrate the independence we cherish. It was, from beginning to soggy-but-spectacular end, a perfectly wonderful Fourth.