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August 3, 2020

Window on the World Column: Make good memories

By Lucy Jensen, Soledad Columnist

I hate the Fourth of July, America’s birthday, Independence Day and all that. There, I’ve said it. I even said it out loud, as I hummed, alternatively, “Star Spangled Banner” and “We are the Champions.” Then a wartime mortar comes flying over my head and I scream and duck for cover, army-crawling toward the house in retreat.

I’m not even kidding. It has been about three weeks now of insanely violent and obnoxiously invasive noise — firecrackers, bombs, illegal this and that — who knows what all has been lighting up the local streets and frightening all the pets to pieces, leaving piles of scummy trash everywhere and hearts that are still missing a beat. There are so many lost and found animals posted recently that it makes me sick to my stomach.

If I did not keep my animals inside during this invasion of my privacy, they would for sure break down the doors to get in. I’ve even had one of my dogs break out through a barbed wire fence one “holiday” season and run for the hills. Luckily some kind soul found him and he was chipped, or he’d still be running.

Is this acceptable? I mean really. Who enjoys all that white noise, that violation of our Constitution? Even selling the so-called safe-and-sane fireworks does not seemingly slow the public’s passion for the illegal stuff. The other night, my neighbors’ dogs busted out of their yard and came to my house, waking all of us. My dogs were already going crazy, the skies were booming; and it sounded as if we really were in the middle of a war zone. I understand that our law enforcement has a heck of a time trying to track down all these violators, but what about the neighbors of the obnoxious? Why don’t they report them? When did we become such an apathetic nation?

Years ago, I was proud of the Fourth of July and all she stood for. I became an American citizen right before the Fourth and I wore my colors proudly. I even got to lead the group in the Pledge of Allegiance with my mother’s sparkly Old Glory hat perched firmly on my head, and I thought it would be forever a favorite and symbolic holiday. But now, I cannot wait for it to be over. Even if we were not in the middle of a pandemic, I would never leave my house, because of my animals’ fears and my own fear that my house might burn down. We eat our hamburgers in acknowledgment of America’s birthday and then run inside, turn up the television and hope for the best.

Friends of mine leave town with all their animals and head for the middle of nowhere, as far from humanity as they can get. I would do that too, if transporting my llamas and the rest of them were not quite so tricky. Plus, you’ve got the whole house burning down thing. Fireworks in high summer with all our dry brush and fire volatility? Ludicrous at best.

On the Fifth of July, we breathe a sigh of relief. Though tired from a sleepless night trying to comfort our traumatized pups, we are intact. The house is still standing, and all my fur babies are present and accounted for, if suffering from a dose of PTSD. For many others, that is not the case. Piles of toxic waste line our residential streets in town and there are notices everywhere for missing pups. I can only imagine how scared they are out there alone in the wilderness.

Makes me sick that America’s birthday has become the holiday to despise, the recapturing of wartime experience that no one should have to visit and the dumping ground for all the fools who like to scare others, especially the animals that cannot protect themselves, not to mention the veterans who suffer with post-war stress and, in serving their country, so did not earn that measure of disrespect. Friends of mine tell me their special needs children have to be specially prepared with earphones and comfort blankets in order to get through these days, the celebration of America’s birthday that has become such a tiresome and un-enjoyable mess.

On another note, today would have been my sister Rosie’s sixth wedding anniversary. She and her beloved husband Ali were only married for a wonderfully sweet four years, before she left us; but their time together was so precious it covered decades. Knowing time is short can make it the most precious ever. They traveled the world — Spain, Venice, Kenya, Kilimanjaro and all over. They made sure all the memories were lasting, as their marriage could not be.

When you are thinking about making memories for your loved ones, why not veer toward the precious and constructive. How about you light pretty sparklers with your children, BBQ some burgers, talk about the reason for the holiday and not terrify them with the explosions and cracks? Life really is too short for all that chaos and mayhem. Make good memories that will not only make you and yours happy, but also everyone else in your neighborhood.


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