In honor of our country’s recent birthday, I wanted to talk about patriotism, which is a feeling I have mostly in National Parks.
I’ve been camping at Mt. Rainier National Park twice recently, and being there gives me a fuzzy proud feeling, like this:
Look at how gorgeously gorgeous this country is!
And look at all these people who love it!
And look at their funny little dollhouse camps with their camping chairs and grills and pink flamingos and fold-out wash stations!
And I have a funny little dollhouse camp too, with a dog bowl and firewood seats around my gratuitously smokey fire!
And here comes the ranger in his Smokey-the-Bear hat, which all dogs seem to hate, and here comes a little dog in a pink jacket to bite the ranger’s leg!And now the ranger is futilely lecturing the dog’s owners to keep their dog on a leash, when anyone else would have kicked the damn thing in the teeth!
Bikes! Kids on bikes!
And a visitor’s center with dead animal skins inside!
Now the ranger has come around again to invite us personally to a talk on “Life in the Tree Tops” at the amphitheater at 8:30, which means there is an amphitheater! But we won’t go because we’ll be in our dollhouse drinking cooler-cold beer and poking at the fire with sticks!
I love America!
Which brings me to the 4th of July. This year, it was our first day of summer, a day earlier than usual. The lake was packed; I had a dreamy picnic.
Then I watched seven young black kids watch a mom set off fireworks in broad daylight. “Run for the hills,” they yelled, and got well out of the way on a grassy slope. “You ready? You ready?” the mom yelled, and lit the stick. Pop pop fizzle, went the pretty-pathetic firework. “OOOOOOO!!!!” went the kids anyhow.
After that, I got a fake tattoo of a puppy and a heart, and ended up on the top floor of a building down town watching the city fireworks with six queer guys. It was a clear view across Lake Union, over the huddled masses of observing boats, to where the fireworks obscured themselves in their own smoke. We talked for a long time about how there should be Dolly Parton fireworks. If they can make fireworks of smiley faces and jellyfish, why not big boobs and big hair? What else is more American?
The smoke had flowed into the city by the time we went back down, and we walked out into the acrid air. I joined the line of hopefully-sober drivers, and headed home, happy. But I will tell you this: I felt a lot of things that day, most of them pretty awesome, but I never got that fuzzy sense of pride.