July 4th, 2019


Fourth of July Cake

Fourth of July Cake

[This post is not about politics or colonialism or blind patriotism.]

Growing up, our family would often roadtrip out to Ennis, MT for the Fourth of July. That's where my Dad grew up. The town has a big celebration on the Fourth, complete with a parade down Main Street, a big rodeo, and fireworks out at the Virginia City ghost town. One year, my Granddad was the parade marshal.

My experiences on those family trips were often mixed. My dad's family is so large that it was difficult to organize everyone, so those of us who weren't adults were often ignored or expected to babysit younger cousins*. There wasn't always a whole lot to do, either. And when we'd travel out to visit, more often than not we would be expected to sleep in the living room, which would mean being kept up until the last person went to sleep and waking up when the first person got up. So, not a lot of quiet spaces for those of us who appreciate some quiet time to recharge. And always meat, in everything. One year I found a matchbook with advertising in it that said, "Eat Meat - Keep Slim."

However. I also have many wonderful memories of Ennis and surroundings. On more than one occasion we'd go out to visit Yellowstone and enjoy its wonders. Then there all those attempts to summit Fan Mountain, plus that one confidence-boosting trip up Red Mountain (aka the Sphinx). Floating down the Madison River in innertubes, watching distant summer thunderstorms scoot across the sky**. Driving through the Gravelly Range. Beautiful wildflowers. Heading all the way down to the Grand Tetons. Driving along Beartooth Highway. Chokecherry syrup on pancakes. Quilting with my grandma. Riding horses with my aunts and Granddad when I was a horse-crazy girl. Visiting family friends Steve and Chet, whose house always smelled of chain smoking and was filled with incredible arrays of curiosities to explore. Climbing to the top of the nearest butte to have a look around. Playing with pygmy goats.

Okay, I miss it. I've been wanting to go back for years, now, it's true.

S and I aren't doing much of anything for the Fourth. I decided to not go in to work, so I'm actually getting to do some of the randomalia around the house for a change. My only big plan was to make Fourth of July Cake, in memory of those Montana summers and the reunions and big potlucks over at the park. So here we are.

* It was very strange when I finally reached an age where I registered as an adult among some of the other family members. I'm the type of person who doesn't distinguish strongly between children vs. adult, but apparently other family members are.

** For those who have ever floated down the Salt River in Arizona, it's kind of like that, except the Madison is actually wonderful and has 100% fewer people with beer coolers, plus way less risk of contracting disgusting infections. The water is refreshingly cool instead of bathwater.

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