Our little island does not mess around when it comes to celebrating Independence Day.
Friday was Flare Night. We didn’t really know what that meant, but we inferred that we were supposed to buy enough road flares to line our lakefront. What time? My sister, Kate, had heard we should light them at 7:30 p.m. The sun was still blazing brightly at that time, so it seemed ridiculous to light the flares. None of us had done any real research on this Bellevue Island tradition.
My parents, sisters, bros-in-law, and nephews joined Tony and me to play in the lake all afternoon and wait for the mysterious flares to light up. We began to think it was a practical joke on the dumb newcomers to the neighborhood. As the sun set around 9:45, my mom just couldn’t wait anymore. “Light the *@#% flares!” she said. “We need to get the kids to bed!”
Britt and John got to work sinking the flares in to the ground through pieces of aluminum foil (to protect the grass – a tip from our friendly neighbor, Bob). We lit the flares and reveled in the red glow, expelling a collective sigh of relief as we saw the rest of the shoreline light up minutes later.
The next morning, the island was abuzz with gossip about the new dorks on Buena Vista who lit their flares 10 minutes early. We got the scoop from our tenant, Don, who had received a late-night phone call. How did everyone know to light them at 10 p.m.? We’re so out of the loop. Oh well …
John and Paul
Nico is very jumpy. He jumps off the dock to Britt.
He jumps over a beer bottle.
He jumps on Megan.
Nico counts beer bottles. He kept telling us to hurry up and finish our beers so he could add them to his collection.
Meg and Britt.
The Jimenez posse.
John and Britt succumb to mother-in-law pressure to light the flares.
Are you happy now, Mom? Everybody’s laughing at us.
Waiting for the rest of the lake to light up!
Saturday was the big Lake Orion fireworks show. By lunchtime, people in town were spreading out blankets and setting up lawn chairs to claim spots with the best views. At the lake, we pitched a little tent for shade and splashed in the water with family and a few friends. The Grays brought fishing gear and a kayak, which provided endless entertainment. Everyone contributed tasty treats to the picnic.
Although we had received invitations to several neighborhood parties, we had so much fun goofing around, eating and chatting that we didn’t leave our beach until it was time for the fireworks to start. At that time, we all grabbed a chair or mat and plodded next door to the gorgeous property of our neighbors, Kim and David. They live on a peninsula that offered perfect views of the fireworks and boat-filled lake.
After living in China for four years, I am not easily impressed by fireworks. However, some of our guests commented that these were the best they’ve ever seen, especially the finale. Tony and I shared a derisive giggle because we saw fireworks in Shanghai as loud and colorful as this finale, only they weren’t the finale. They went on like that for hours. However, we decided to celebrate that – unlike some countries – America pays workers a fair wage, allows fireworks sellers to make an honest profit, and imposes safety restrictions on the explosives, effectively limiting the size of local fireworks shows. Anyway, no fireworks show could bring me as much joy as sharing our home and lake with the people we care about.
Patrick fishes while his brother, Liam, kayaks.
John and Britt set up a little tent for shade.
Tony and Paulie.
The gang’s all here!
Taking turns with the kayak.
Pop and Gee in the tent.
Paulie jumps off the dock.
My new friend, Lisa, stops by on a party barge!
Nico loves watermelon!
Paulie plays with a velcro paddle and tennis ball (which fell apart well before the party wrapped up).
Liam teaches Nico how to fish.
Janelle brought by individually packaged jello shots, which my sisters seemed to enjoy.
Nico roasts marshmallows in the fire pit.
Nico shows off the sheriff’s badge he received from an officer making the rounds.
Paul and me.
Watching the fireworks from our neighbor’s yard. Patrick paddled the kayak around the peninsula for the show.
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