Old Glory and home of the brave

Sparklers, and firecrackers,
Black snakes and jumping jacks
Rockets red glare
Bomb bursting in air
Gunpowder smell of sulphur
The tang of smoke, stinging eyes

Apple pie and blackberry cobbler,
Coconut and chocolate, pecans and caramel
Hand-cranked vanilla ice cream,
Cans of bittersweet Hershey’s syrup
Eaten by spoonfuls with cousin Danny
Under farm wagons turned picnic tables.

Sun-brewed ice tea with an inch of sugar
Left unmelted at the bottom of the jug,
Icy bottles of Orange Crush and Coca-Cola
Stolen from the old white Frigidaire sitting on the back porch.
Watermelons chilling in the creek,
Juicy pink smiles, spitting seeds and sticky faces

Hamburgers and hot dogs grilled by great-uncles
In Bible meeting white shirts and suspenders,
Baked beans, green beans,
Black-eyed peas simmered with fat-back.
Fresh picked corn on the cob,
Crisp and sweet from the garden

Buckets of potato salad and cole slaw,
Candied yams topped with marshmallows
Casseroles of gooey macaroni and cheese,
Home-canned pickles and jars of Ollie Mae’s green tomato relish.
Competing clans vying for the most oohs and aahs
Over secret family recipes

Grandma’s fried chicken and aunt Doretha’s meatloaf,
Ham and pork chops from the smokehouse
Piled high of red plastic dinner plates.
Heavy black iron skillets of cornbread
Melt-in-your mouth angel biscuits still warm from the oven,
Dripping in butter and slathered in honey from the wildflowers on the hill.

A gaggle of girls making daisy chains,
Braiding clover in each other’s hair,
Blowing wishes on dandelions.
Barefoot boys skipping rocks across the pond,
Climbing trees with skinned knees,
Trying to tell the biggest lies.

Endless games of softball cheered from hay bale bleachers,
Hide-n-seek in the cornfields,
Three-legged races and Red Rover jeers
Horseshoes clanging, leaners winning
Squeals of laughter heard echoing
Across the valley and into the holler.

Pinched cheeks and White Shoulders hugs,
Lace handkerchief spit washes
“You’re the very image of your mama.”
Pats on the back and ruffled hair,
Old Spice-scented guffaws
“I ain’t seen you since you was this high.”

Babies napping on quilting bee Log Cabins
Intoxicating perfume of magnolias in bloom,
Honeysuckle syrup on the tip of your tongue.
Tire swings in the shade of the old oak tree,
Cardboard forts, o’er the ramparts we watched
Shooting stars race across the moon

Tying strings on june bug legs,
Chasing butterflies in the peach orchard,
Catching fireflies in a jar
Digging for crickets and worms
Fishing pole in hand running
Off to the fishing hole to catch Old Boss

Snipe hunts at midnight
Ghost stories around a bonfire,
Crackling and throwing sparks high into the night sky
Deep and mournful calls of a barn owl
The eternal song of cicadas and bull frogs
On a hot, summer Southern night.

Corn bins, and storm cellars,
Dilapidated barns guarded by grey tabby mousers,
Old faded Red Tractors,
A dusty ‘57 Ford Fairlane
Chrome tailfins and straight-from-the-showroom plastic seat covers
Driven only on Sundays by widowed Aunt Emma.

The white clapboard home place
Wrap-around porches draped in red, white and blue bunting
Gallantly streaming
Staircase banisters to slide down,
Screen doors to slam,
Rocking chairs to while away the time.

Gathering from wherever we’ve roamed
Coming together at Papaw’s,
Sleeping in thick feather beds, under an afghan of memories
Sharing stories and photos,
Showing off babies and brides,
New husbands and how much our children have grown.

Reminiscing and remembering.
Pride and patriotism,
The Star Spangled Banner and the Pledge of Allegiance…
One nation under God.
Amazing Grace and America the Beautiful,
Old Glory and home of the brave.

Decorating gravesides with bouquets of red poppies,
Hats solemnly removed, hands over hearts
Re-telling tales of bravery and loss
Tri-folded flags and faded photos of young men in uniform
Never returning home,
Buried long ago on foreign soil.

It’s family and homecomings…

My Indie Ink Writing Challenge this weeks comes from Laura at Not Just 9to5 – “What does Fourth of July mean to you?”

I sent my challenge to Chelsea at From the Mouth of a Mother – “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Interested in joining the Challenge? Stop by Indie Ink for details.

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