Monday, July 6, 2009

The Squash Parade

Although I only saw the film "Doc Hollywood" once, several years ago, it was one of the few movies I actually saw in its entirety when my children were small. As I remember, it was not a particularly good film but one of the few movies of that time period I didn't sleep through. Any film that starts out with a gorgeous Porsche roadster plowing into a wooden fence has my attention. O, the heartache! O, the waste! And then the question: can the Porsche be repaired?

Other than the wreck and repair (twice) of the roadster, I can't tell you much else about the plot of "Doc Hollywood," but I remember it served up a slightly off-kilter, comic comparison of life in the fast lane vs. life as I've always known it: life in the dirt lane. Other than the Porsche scenes, there is one other scene I've never quite forgotten. The little town had a parade honoring its most successful agricultural crop, the squash. The movie offered a solid rendering of the small town parade. Nothing like the Macy's parade on Thanksgiving or the Parade of Roses on New Year's Day. Just the local folks hamming it up, walking down the middle of main street and waving to their neighbors, some folks pretending to be dignitaries, another walking down the street leading a pig on a leash.

Through the years, I have remembered this movie scene as I have lived many Fourths of July in the manner the folks in the Bend of the River celebrate. Even those of us who have never been to D.C. or Boston to see the grand fireworks shows and to hear the Marine Band or the Boston Pops conspire on a summer night to make us feel some kind of patriotism deep down in our souls, well, even those who have never seen it in person have watched it on television, thanks to satellite dishes. So I think we know we are missing the mark, but that's not stopping us.

Two "must do's" during the daylight hours of July 4 in the Bend of the River are fishing and swimming. If it is a hot day, dig your worms early, go out and catch an entire stringer of crappie and as many big bass and you can. After you are thoroughly sweaty and sunburned, it's time to go swimming to cool off. The best place to swim, of course, is Smithsonia Light, a tiny island with its own tire swing and shell shallows. Where we fish, I'm not telling. The hog-sized bass that got away on Saturday must be a lake record, and we plan to go back with a better plan very soon.

The other daytime activities vary. Before dawn, the smoker was loaded with ribs, so you know at some point there is pork to eat, but in the meantime there is a swing on a shady screened porch, and next to it is a stack of unread books. There are three canoes, a sailboat, and of course the yard is strewn by this time in July with windsurfing equipment just waiting for 15-20 mph from the South. There is croquet, badminton, a White Mountain ice cream maker, ceiling fans, and a lot of crushed ice and drinks to go with it.

By the time dusk falls, we are applying the sunburn gels and watching the pre-show of the lightning bugs (fireflies)rise up from the lawn. For the last three days, kids have run down to their docks with fireworks 'teasers': a string of firecrackers, a handful of bottle rockets, an occasional Roman Candle launching its glowing red, green, and blue fireballs fifteen feet at the most into the air. About the time the lightning bugs reach the treetops, we grab our flashlights and lawn chairs and head out for the dock. We don't actually know for sure that there will be a fireworks show, but we're feeling lucky.

There are sparklers, Birthday Cakes, screaming MeMe's, more Roman Candles. By 9 pm a flotilla of bass boats, pontoon boats, and a few cabin cruisers have assembled about 200 feet out. When the first of the real fireworks appears--this year it was a large golden chrysanthemum shower with the report of a cannon--traffic comes to a halt on the Natchez Trace bridge. It's time to watch the show.

We don't know exactly who pays for this, but we suspect one of our neighbors must have an interest in TNT, the local fireworks company. This is not the kind of fireworks sold at the neighborhood Southern fireworks stand, a grubby trailer guarded at night by a mean dog and a guy with a shotgun loaded with bird shot. This is the kind of spectacular, coordinated fireworks show that could only be attempted by someone who has read the rulebook and served an apprenticeship. The show starts out slow but works up by degrees. People are catcalling and whistling, clapping and rebel-yelling. The double star helix in red-white-and blue creates a war-like yell of appreciation. So what if it's not Boston and instead of the Pops playing the cymbals in the background, someone has cranked up their stereo with Sweet Home Alabama for the forty eleventh dozen time? For the Bend of the River, it's grand.

Even the next morning early, kids are still running out onto the piers shooting off firecrackers and bottle rockets.

And I'm thinking I need to buy a copy of "Doc Hollywood" as my very own.

I need to see that Squash Parade one more time.

1 comment:

Jeanie Thompson said...

It's August 18 and I just read this, but I'm still jealous as hell I wasn't there. Fourth of July has to happen in a place, not the mind...I'm glad to know the Bend in the River is there and I might be able to sneak up there sometime before I die and join the party.
JT