A 4th of July Tale

It was the year of 2012 and I was 8 months pregnant with my third child. It had been a record breaking summer for heat and high temperatures. I usually love the 4th of July, but this year I was having a hard time getting excited about the festivities (or much of anything for that matter). We had started a new family tradition of watching the local fireworks near my parents’ recently purchased cabin in the woods. But honestly, the thought of loading up my kids with bug spray so I could chase waddle after my 18 month old daughter through the crowds of people so my 6 year old could stay out late to watch the fireworks sounded like the opposite of a good time. So when my mom suggested taking the pontoon boat down the river and catching the fireworks from the bay I didn’t hesitate. Thankfully my family and a couple of our close friends who joined in with us for our holiday getaway were graciously accommodating. Our group loaded up the pontoon and the little fishing boat to head 7 miles down the river to see what we could see. We knew the display was a little way down the shore of the great lake Superior, and that our little boats weren’t meant for rough waters -so we wouldn’t be close; but the thought of watching them with my favorite people from the lake was enticing. Once we were in the bay we dropped anchor and tied the boats side by side. We were a little early so we made small talk and indulged in our refreshments. It didn’t take long before I had to go to the bathroom. Great, right? Where was I going to go to the bathroom? The pontoon was equipped with a porta-potty accompanied by a pop-up curtain. Under normal (not-pregnant) circumstances I would have refused, but I had no choice. So everybody made room for my dad to set up the station so I could use the facilities. Except I was too embarrassed about the predicament of only being separated by a boat full of people by a curtain, that I couldn’t go. So naturally I spoke through the fabric barrier and asked everyone if they would politely make some noise, But you know how it is when you ask someone to talk, right? It’s like all of the sudden there is nothing to say. What are we going to talk about? The awkwardness? No, of course not. But what??? So I say, maybe you could sing a song? Perfect. So the first song that popped into one of their heads was Jingle Bells, to which the whole lot quickly jumped in on. The entire ordeal just struck me and I lost it; I couldn’t stop laughing. Here are my loved ones singing Christmas carols on the 4th of July, so I could relieve myself in a make shift bathroom on the back of a pontoon in the middle of a bay. Awesome. To this day I am moved by embarrassment the love and friendship. It was just about dusk so we knew the show was about to start. In the distance we could see a few little fireworks that people were beginning to set off, probably from their back yard. If you held your thumb up you could literally cover the whole firework from your view, seriously no more than an inch of a spark. But that person went all out, because they had a continuous display. Every couple of minutes we could barely make out another firework that would go off in the distance. In the meantime, something had upset my 4 year old niece and she began an inconsolable screaming cry, just a little ambiance to go with the show; of which shortly thereafter we had the realization we were watching! Those little sparks were from the local community display! Now it was time to pack it up and make our way back home. Naturally it was pitch black. The great thing about being out in the woods is that there is a vast amount of nature, however that doesn’t lend us a lot of light. My husband and brother-in-law tried to lead the way to make a path to follow in the fishing boat. The river is protected by the state and kept very natural- which means logs could be floating or better yet lodged and sticking out of the water. This could dangerous for the pontoon, so my friend Molly did her best to keep a spotlight scanning back and forth across the river to shed as much light and information as possible. The fearless leaders did their best to navigate through the dark unknown. We were probably traveling at a pace of about 2-3 miles per hour, and almost half way home when my dad (who is excellent with boats, but had never driven this pontoon at night) flipped a switch and found to all of our surprise that the pontoon had headlights! Wow, that river shone like the sun! And the look on my husband and brother-in-law’s faces was priceless, like watching the transformation of two cave dwellers becoming two stunned deer in head lights. After a couple minutes of adjustment for all, the whole river echoed our combined laughter. To this day it remains the best-worst 4th of July ever.

Featured image courtesy of Ryan French