Red, white, and definitely blue

To repent for this week’s chocolate ice cream intake, I chose an extra dose of walking as my medicine this weekend.

An abundance of sunshine and a lack of mosquitoes made the nearby sparkling bodies of water a perfect choice.

And Minnesota has a lot of them.

We’re known as the ‘Land of 10,000 Lakes’, but it’s actually more like 21,000 depending on who’s counting.

But I’m not.

I was just looking for peace and fresh air out on the trails.

And peace is found pretty easily on 4th of July weekends as most in my area go ‘up north’ to their family cabins.

I don’t have one, but that’s fine with me.

It seems I’m a contrarian.

Who wants to sit in traffic on the state highways like a swarm of bumbling bees anyway?

So placing a camera in my left hand and my pup Rex in the right, I went in search of my own version of the red, white and blue.

And the color blue was Saturday’s first radiant gift found in the form of flowers.

It seemed as if Mother Nature had favored blue as her hue, softly brushing the summer landscape in front of her with it’s softer shades.

Then early today we covered new ground and noticed some sweet smelling white blossoms had been added.

They felt soft to the touch, much like the blue petals.

And they were swaying gently in the cool morning breeze.

Rex and I were both excited.

That is until I felt a stabbing pain in my left foot.

It was in the heel.

And I was limping.

It was definitely slowing down my pace.

And unfortunately I had chosen a longer path at dawn as we still needed to find a perfect display of red.

I told Rex to lead me on.

Except for occasionally confusing his reds with with his greens, Rex finally found some.

And also a bench where we could rest.

We sat and admired the floral fireworks display before us for a while.

Eventually we rose to slowly walk the last mile.

We soon heard guitar music in the distance over by the swimming beach.

As we got closer, we took another break on a grassy knoll to see what was going on.

An older man began to talk just, just as Rex decided to mud wrestle.

“Hey boy, it’s a church service,” I said as we both quickly sat up.

The preacher spoke of finding peace for our souls this holiday weekend, and having no regrets.

Afterwards I turned to Rex and said, ” I believe we found peace this weekend in spite of that pain in my sole. No regrets, buddy. Agreed?”

I’d like to think he nodded.

But maybe he was just praying for another piece of rawhide.

Fireflies and fireworks

With my eight year old granddaughter Alexxis riding shotgun, and two sleepy pups in the back seat, we took off for the country.

Or what’s left of it anyway.

I was searching for a simpler, quieter 4th of July weekend. Something akin to the one I enjoyed when I was her age.

A weekend full of front porches, lemonade, ice cream, with plenty of cozy books and crayons came to mind.

And sprinkled lightly with just a spoonful of fireworks.

Hitting the highway out of the city to the south, I noticed the road wasn’t the same as I remembered.

Instead of crops growing tall, it was the Golden Arches of McDonald’s and casinos that now beckoned.

And new treeless housing developments of endless large taupe colored homes. All clustered tightly together, with each house perfectly identical to the one next door.

Yet by the time we took a right to enter the big lot of the state’s largest candy store a half hour later, I noticed the landscape had changed.

Getting out of the car, I could see the corn surrounding me was “knee high by the 4th of July.”

Just as it should be. And maybe even taller.

And off in the distance I spotted grain silos on what seemed be a couple family farms.

At least I hoped they still were.

Alexxis and I smiled as we entered and  then walked through the mammoth isles of the candy shop. Our noses were happy as well as we caught the scent of fresh berry pies from the bakery within.

She picking out her favorite Bazooka gum and gummy bears.

Me selecting the sweet treats of my youth like Sugar Daddys, an apple pie, and root beer candy sticks.

I laughed as the root beer smell brought me back to one particular 4th of July memory when I was a child.

After too many sweets and too many stops at homes of friends and family, the new car smell of my parent’s brand new sedan soon was permanently overtaken with the scent of root beer fizzies mixed with something, well, not quite as pleasant and gifted by me.

Back in my car, Alexxis and I continued our drive through lush valleys until the road evened out some.

Before approaching the small farm where we would be staying, I introduced Alexxis to my favorite books back when I was her age that featured two young girls living in a Midwestern small town in the early 1900s named Betsy and Tacy.

We stopped for a brief tour of each of their original homes and to buy a special book bag for Alexxis’s growing collection of books at the little gift store attached.

After unpacking at the farmhouse, Alexxis rocked in the front porch swing with her new Betsy and Tacy book to the hum of a farmer haying in the field across the road.

And I settled into the rocking chair, dozing for a while.

Then suddenly Alexxis announced, “Fireflies Grandma, Fireflies!”

She’d never seen one before and I haven’t since I was a child.

But she was right.

There they were, dancing brightly near the blooming white snowball bush.

We danced as well, warmed by the light of the fireflies, skipping the fireworks display  in town.

There will be always be fireworks we figured.

But only one chance to be a kid.

Or maybe two, as just for a brief moment I was a kid back in the country once again.