From Where I Sit

By Pat Spilseth, Columnist

My neighborhood on Lake Minnetonka’s Casco Point is a perfect Norman Rockwell scene on the Fourth of July. Celebrating America’s independence makes me nostalgic for the small town Americana life I knew growing up. Kids celebrated each and every day of summer on Lake Minnewaska sunning on old bath towels stretched out on the beach, swimming and canoeing on the water. What a life it was…every kid should be so lucky!

The morning of the Fourth, at 10 a.m., neighbors start gathering for our annual Fourth of July neighborhood kiddie parade. Suzy sets out the card table stocked with bowls of candy to throw to the kids pumping their bike pedals up and down the paved road. Kent wears his once-a-year patriotic hat with stars and stripes. Kids adore Judy, who brings huge bags of candy for treats. Naturally, several family dogs are usually in attendance, awaiting doggie treats from Jerry, the supreme gift-giver of dog bones. The same dogs snatch and wolf down candy spilling out of kids’ stuffed pockets. Many tummies will be upset later in the evening after feasting on candy, marshmallows, s’mores and hot dogs…annual treats of the holiday festivities.

As older kids ride bikes around the park, younger kids arrive on miniature bikes with red, white and blue handlebar streamers and crepe paper decorated spokes on their tricycles. I usually spy a little girl  in her white and blue stripped Fourth of July dress, never stopping even once for candy as she pedals determinedly around and around the park. Tiny girls with crowns on their curly heads ride demurely in Grandpa’s red wagon. A miniature green John Deere tractor is wobbly steered by my proud two-year-old grandson Scout.

Later in the afternoon, neighbors often gather to eat an abundant potluck smorgasbord of brats, hot dogs and watermelon, potato salad, macaroni and veggie salads, brownies and flag cake. No glorified rice nor red Jell-O appear at these picnics. Those items were so fashionable in the fifties. Guys and gals play rousing games of volleyball, lawn golf and jump on Dave’s trampoline. It’s a Norman Rockwell July Fourth in this idyllic Americana neighborhood.

Moms run after babies toddling across lawns chasing neighborhood dogs barking with happiness at the holiday activity. Croquet mallets smack big wooden balls in the yard next door, and oodles of grandkids ran up and down the grassy hill and fish contentedly from weathered docks. Little kids don’t question the “no hooks” policy. Parents love to remember their youthful exploits on the water: they climb on bouncing Wave Runners to speed around the Bay. A few try water skiing behind speed boats slicing through the waves. Younger guys and gals skim across the waves on sailboards, and fishermen bob in silent boats on the water.

As darkness falls and the stars came out in a clear sky, boats come from all over the lake to our bay, jockeying for prime spots on the water to watch the fireworks. It’s a delightful scene to watch sailboats and speedboats bob on the water and the extravaganza in the sky of exploding fireworks and lights reflecting on the glistening lake.

Who doesn’t hope for a holiday weekend with sunshine and boats dotting the lake – time to take off from work; time to relax on the lake; pull up lawn chairs and sip lemonade. It’s time to enjoy those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer…

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