First of all, a raising of the glass to our veterans and currently serving military members. For your continued service, in austere and often hostile environments, for standing in our place in some of the most difficult places on Earth, we thank you. Be safe and come home soon.
For as long as it's mattered, my two favorite holidays have been Thanksgiving and the 4th of July. Thanksgiving has all of the friends, food, family and football that you'll find in Christmas, but without the religious conflict, the pressure of the gift psychology and the wretched excesses of runaway consumerism.
The 4th of July, on the other hand, was always a time for me to light off fireworks, to drink too much and to enjoy the heat, if only for a day. It was a loud and rollicking day and night, right up until a few years ago. I'm older now, infinitely older, and I no longer blow things up on purpose, I usually fall asleep before I get the chance to drink excessively and the hot weather hurts. There is still something about the 4th that speaks to me, however, and, in spite of the stickiness and discomfort that it brings with it, even the heat feels right on this day. It doesn't hurt if I can spend part of the day on the water somewhere, either.
Which is what I plan on doing tomorrow. The weather report is calling for temperatures of 89 degrees here in Tacoma, which means that the real high will be somewhere around 92. (If I was a gamer looking to make a living on the forecasted temperature predictions for these parts, I would automatically bet the over. Actual highs always seem to be out in front of the predictions by 3 or 4 degrees. It's almost like we refuse to see the possibility of mercury that high... it's so completely out of character for how we, and our meteorologists, see the world and our place in it.)
With all that, tomorrow, sometime around noon, I'm planning on taking part in the inaugural standup paddleboard race at the Tacoma Freedom Fair. The Freedom Fair is a bombastic, family-friendly, carnival-type celebration held each July 4th on the Ruston Way Waterfront, with midway rides, bands, an airshow and a monster fireworks show, synchronized to music on a local radio station. All that's patriotic, and then some.
I've avoided it for my entire time here in Tacoma but I'm going this year. I will miss the boat race at Salmon Beach and I will probably complain at various points throughout the day about the mass of people I am pressed against, but I'm excited about the SUP race too. Not because the event itself is likely to be anything grand – a dozen participants, maybe – but it will be the first of its kind here in the south Sound.
I predict that the race at next year's Freedom Fair will be a much larger affair. But this one will still be the first.