Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Small Town Joy

With some time out for good behavior in Salt Lake City, my husband and I lived in Washington, D.C., for 30 years. Our son is one of those rare D.C. natives, born just blocks from the White House. Our nation's capitol is truly a beautiful city if you don't look too closely, full of verdant parks and flowers and fountains and striking monuments. But getting some of the basics things done, like annual car registration and inspections, driver's license renewals and passports, and anything remotely involving any branch of the federal government, took the patience of a saint and possibly a couple of Valium. Eight years ago life intervened and a family emergency required a move to Maine. We were happy to leave.

I was reminded of D.C. last night when I sat watching our local 4th of July fireworks display. After enjoying a wonderful free musical concert put on by the town fathers and paid for by L. L. Bean, the throngs of attendees picked up their chairs and blankets and relocated a quarter of a mile away for an unimpeded view of the fireworks. They were fabulous, as are most fireworks if you like that sort of thing, and the whole experience was so easy. After the final embers died out, our party walked a few short blocks to our car and drove the three miles home, visions of fireworks still dancing in our heads.

Back in D.C., that same experience -- watching huge, colorful explosions in the sky accompanied by noise, light, smoke and floating materials -- required about six hours of diligence. We had to leave our home early and drive downtown in bumper-to-bumper traffic, search for parking and ultimately find a questionable spot in a borderline tow-away zone perhaps a mile away from the proceedings, then schlep our stuff to the clogged National Mall and, passing through security, squeeze ourselves in among the people who had spent the whole day there so they could avoid our grim experience, hoping all the while that our car would still be there at the end of the festivities. (One time it wasn't, but that's another story far too painful to dredge up here.)

Okay, so there's not much theater and only one museum to speak of.  Still, living in a small town has its perks, and tonight was surely one of them.

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