It’s just about that time again: time to break out the barbeques and watermelon, the sparklers and cool whip topped flag cakes. The 4th of July is near. And, after a recent calculation, I was shocked to discover that it’s been four years since I last ventured home to celebrate America’s birth. While I’ve enjoyed the red and white of Canada Day for several years running, I need a serious dose of red, white and blue. That’s the thing about living abroad: after an initial weaning period, it’s easy forget how much you loved certain traditions. And I love the 4th of July: the heady summer air, the explosion of light, the smell of charcoal and the dawn’s early light. And, though it’s not my original home, I relish celebrating the 4th of July in my once upon a time home, Chicago. Crackers echo through the city like gunshot, the lake breeze offsets the stickiness of high summer, and fireworks illuminate the faces of dear old friends. So I’m leaving on a jet plane for some much-needed American revelry.

Sparklers in Chicago. July 2006.

But, unlike that classic song’s refrain, I’ll be back here with a new post on Monday. Happy, happy whatever you celebrate, wherever you are. I’m sending you thoughts of summer and sparkle and tipsy laughter.