Happy Independence Day!
The Fourth of July has always been a favorite holiday of mine. As a kid it, summer felt like it was a year long. I’m not sure why time speeds up as you age, but summer as a kid was the best. No responsibilities, no timetable, no worries. Every year on the 4th my whole family would gather at the Sheridan Rod and Gun Club. Sounds fancy, but it was just a little wooded area with a pond in the middle of nowhere central Illinois. But, as a kid it was paradise. Our family would reserve a picnic shelter that was carved out of a wooded lot that rested on a little raised plateau. Behind the shelter was a large lawn area and my uncles would set up a volleyball net and the dangerous as could be ‘Lawn Dart’ set. The volleyball games were always entertaining and we would laugh at my grandma trying to serve the ball or my grandpa wearing shorts for the one day a year he wasn’t in denim jeans. All of my extended family would be there as well and all brought a dish to pass, drinks, and something to grill. We would fill up on hot dogs and spaghetti salad, then run down the hill over to the pond where they had a small beach. We would swim / race from the beach out to a floating dock in the middle of the pond then do cannonballs off the side. As the evening came around we would pack up our picnic and head over to the local high school to watch the fireworks and drink a lemon shake up. It was a great way to spend the holiday and whenever kids come along for my wife and I, my hope is that we can create a similar tradition.
Football is Almost Back
In my adult life the fourth of July also triggers my mind to thinking about football. NFL training camps will be starting in the next few weeks, then pre-season games, and finally regular season games in early September. Of the four major sports, football is by far my favorite. I think I enjoy it so much because there are so few games compared to other sports. A baseball season lasts for six months and there are games nearly every day. You can miss five or six baseball games and still have a pretty good idea of how the team is doing and where they stand. You really didn’t miss much. Five or six games in an NFL season is a quarter of the entire schedule. Each week is important and impacts the entire season. It’s that intensity from week to week that really draws me in. Fall is also my favorite time of year, and the football season coincides with that perfectly. I love waking up on cool Sunday morning, throwing on a hoodie, sipping some coffee and checking my fantasy lineup for the day. And oh yea, in the last couple years I’ve become a fantasy football addict. I had never played in a fantasy league until two years ago when someone from work asked if I wanted to join. I’m a big Chicago Bears fan and of course watch all of their games. But, the fantasy aspect also makes watching all the other games even more entertaining when I have a little wager on the line. Thankfully, Mazie is also a fan of football and tolerant of my obsession. She won our fantasy league last year. God bless her.
Why is Canada on my mind on the 4th of July? Typically, every year around Labor Day I go on a fishing trip with my dad and some of his buddies to northern Canada. We drive about 16 hours north to where the road ends in Red Lake, Ontario. From there we load up a week’s worth of food and gear and fly another fifty miles northwest to Job Lake. The little Beaver float plane lands right on the lake and taxi’s up to the dock. We unload our gear and begin a week of relaxing. There are no phones, no internet, and no way to connect with the outside world. You can’t be bothered with emails or the daily news, even if you wanted to. The week consists of strong coffee and massive breakfasts each morning, catching walleye and pike all day, then back to the cabin for a fish fry, bourbon and cigars on the porch each evening. Pretty great if you ask me. Last year, due to Covid we could not make the trip. The border between the US and Canada has been shut down / restricted to American travel since early 2020. Later this month the Canadian government will vote to re-open (or not) the border. The shut down has been devastating to the economy of Ontario, which largely relies on tourism. We are hopeful, for everyone’s sake that we can make the trip again this year.
I Want a Yard
Mazie and I live in a small apartment in the West Loop of Chicago. The neighborhood is fantastic and we have so many bars, shops, and restaurants within walking distance. Our apartment building has some great amenities as well like a full indoor pool, basketball court, and fitness center. We also have a rooftop space for residents with a few gas grills that anyone can use. Unfortunately, last weekend someone accidentally caught one of the grills on fire and there was a massive inferno. Fast forward to this weekend and the grills are no longer in use. Although our small apartment is truly all we need, we have really been longing for a patio and back yard. Even a small balcony of our own would be great. But, if you’re gonna dream, dream big right? I would love to have a back yard again. I’m a landscape architect and design residential gardens for a living. A lot of my clients say ‘oh my, I bet your garden at home is amazing isn’t it!?’. If you call a few potted house plants on the window ledge a garden then you would be correct! Someday, hopefully not too far into the future we can have a little garden space of our own to tinker, create, and care for. Just takes time and money right?