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Bonfires

I awoke today to a morning tinged with grey and paused to enjoy a full body stretch.  A soundtrack of a white-noise played in the background—ocean surf pounding rhythmically.

Its familiar pulse connected me to childhood memories of summers at the beach. Days were spent frolicking in the icy Atlantic water then defrosting in the heat of the summer sun. Sometimes we rolled ourselves in the hot sand like doughnuts drenched in sugar and then body surfed the waves to rinse ourselves clean. There was a regular pattern to the daily activities; the highlight of the summer was the Fourth of July bonfire on the beach.

With this holiday is approaching, I recalled the celebrations of my youth. During the week prior to the fourth, everyone in the neighborhood contributed something to burn. Anticipation built as day by day the pile grew teepee-style until the Big Night. Along the stretch of beach, each neighborhood competed to erect the biggest pile.

Fathers dragged picnic tables to the beach and a neighborhood meal was shared. As the sun set and temperatures dropped, we’d bundle up in sweatshirts. When just the right amount of darkness had settled, the bonfire would finally be lit. Families sat around, mesmerized by the huge flames, bigger than the best forest campfire any of us had enjoyed. The moment was magical. A sense of family, of community, and patriotism blended. It doesn’t get much better than that. Happy Fourth of July. Celebrate with those you love .

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