Happy 4th of July! –By S. M. Senden

It is the 4th of July and most people are gathered with family and friends to celebrate, cook on the barbeque and enjoy watching fireworks.  For many people it is a much welcomed day off from the daily grind of work.  As I thought about what I would write for this blog, many ideas rattled through my head, but one memory came to the surface as one of my best 4th of July celebrations.  It is a memory that is precious.

I remember when I was a child; one 4th of July we were in Grand Marias, Minnesota for our summer vacation.  At that time it was undeveloped and the unspoiled land looked much as it had for centuries.  People had built homes around the lake, but there were no commercial or large developments, the roads were dirt and gravel and the woods were thick with trees, bears, raccoons and other wildlife.

Our neighbors had a cabin on Devil’s TrackLake, and my parents rented a cabin on the lake for us.  The cabin had two bedrooms, a bathroom and a living area that was family room, dining area and kitchen all in one.  They were rustic, but comfortable.  In the evenings the bears and raccoons would come raid the garbage cans, providing much entertainment for us, armed with flashlights.

This was a wonderland to explore for me.  We took long walks, explored the Gunflint Trail, foraged for raspberries, saw dead lakes killed by the over logging that jammed the waterways the waterlogged trees still laying where they fell decades earlier, if we swam in the dead lakes we learned about leeches and how salt was the best and fastest way to get them off our bodies. To say the least, I learned not to be afraid of nature.

My father taught me to fish on that lake from a motor boat, I had to put the worm on the line, or the lure, and if I caught any fish I had to clean them as well.  We had fish for breakfast, lunch and dinner; mostly walleye cooked on a wood burning stove.  A feast we all enjoyed.  The lake held so many fascinations for me.  There were places where wild rice grew, and there were loons who sang their plaintive cry in the misty light.

Grand Marias had a parade on the 4th, and everyone was welcome to join in.  As a little child, this was awesome.  Previous years, in Evanston, Illinois where we would go watch the parade from the IBM building where my dad worked, giving us a great view through the windows of the second floor, we never got to be a part of the parade.  This year, as we stood on the sidelines watching, someone asked if we would like to march in the parade.  I joined in, waving my American Flag, loving every minute of being a part of the parade.

As I recall this time, it makes me think of how luck I am to live in this great nation.  I have been fortunate enough to live, work and visit in many diverse places around the world, Canada, England, most of Europe, the Middle East and Africa.  Each of these wonderful places and their people taught me so much.  However each time I travel, I come to appreciate the United States of America more and more.  We enjoy incredible freedom, amazing rights and great privileges.  We celebrate the birth of our nation with fireworks, barbeque and plenty of food, friends and family gathered around.

How do will you remember the birthday of this nation on the 4th?  This year, I may just dress up in red, white and blue bunting, step into the parade and celebrate this great nation, thankful, grateful and rejoicing that this country is my home.

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