Yesterday was Independence Day here in the United States, and though I hadn’t expended upon this concept a great deal of premature meditation, I made it a point of saying “Happy Independence Day” to people, rather than “Happy Fourth”. I know we call the Holiday “The Fourth of July,” though I have never really understood why. I suspect that “Happy twenty-fifth” would aggravate some people come December, and I know from experience that “Happy Winter Solstice” doesn’t always go over well in mixed crowds. I hope you’ll forgive me sounding like Shep Smith here for a moment, but I think perhaps we need to give a little more thought to what we otherwise seem to view as a license to blow things up and make noise. Not all that long ago, an awful lot of people died to ensure that we wouldn’t grow up eating microwave Indian food and playing cricket. More importantly, of course, we are no longer subjugated by a foreign power. American independence impacts the entire world, and it is indeed worthy of greater consideration than the masses of bro-tank wearing, dynamite-exploding, IPA-drinking humanity seem to give it. (*Steps down off of large box labeled “soap”.)
I leave for Bosnia in about twelve hours, and from Bosnia to England. I once fancied myself a “globe trotter” but I haven’t left the country in five years. Marriage and kids have changed me a bit, and I’ve learned to be more content at home and to appreciate my surroundings more. I’ve also run out of money to travel; daycare is expensive, and we’re still paying our daughter off in payments that are strikingly higher than my car payments. Anyway, I’m leaving the US, and that probably has me thinking more than anything about this incredible place that I get to call home. I love to travel, to cross cultures, eat new foods, see things I’ve never laid eyes on, breathe new air, sip new wine, and look at things from a whole new perspective. I’m excited to do this, but I find that even before I leave, I’m excited to get home to my family as well. This was on my mind a lot yesterday, as I watched Titus splash in a kiddy-pool and ate grilled fare with some old friends and neighbors. I spent the day with my family, watching a parade and just spending time together enjoying the freedoms I didn’t earn and therefore seem to appreciate even more. As evening approached, I cooked dinner for the family and opened a bottle of rose’ for Sonja and I.
After nearly blowing my arm off lighting an old grill with a stubborn lighter, I tossed on some chicken breasts that I had rubbed in ground coffee, chili powder, and garlic salt. I threw together some onions and asparagus in minced garlic, and threw the lot on some penne with oregano and butter. It was a tasty meal, and I liked how the chicken turned out. As we sat down to eat, I asked Titus, as I always do, what he was thankful for. As is his usual response, he mentioned a raft of zoo animals, and mommy and daddy and Zooey, when prompted. I told him I was thankful for our food, and for our family, and for our amazing liberties and freedoms, to which he and Zooey responded empathically “Amen!”. We ate our dinner and chatted and then Zooey decided to rub it in her hair, so bath time came next, followed by story time, and then bed time.
After we got the kids to bed, Sonja and I chatted for a while and then, despite the heat, lit a fire on the patio and took our rose’ outside with us. We knew the local display of patriotism wouldn’t lend itself to an early bedtime, so we braced ourself and planned to watch a few fireworks from our patio, though between the trees and the new pergola, we were mostly just listening. It was nice, however, to have more time to talk, and the wine was truly excellent.
I was introduced to Silver Trident wines a few years ago, and have been impressed by their consistency and quality ever since. The Apollo’s Folly rose’ from 2017 is a great example. Never mind the really cool bottle it comes in, this is the essence of Provence with some Napa Valley flair. Salmon hue with vibrant aromatics that come to life after they warm up a bit, the flavor profile is delicate yet expressive, with pronounced notes of pear followed by hints of vanilla, strawberry, and rose petals, with a punchy little kick of grapefruit towards the finish. From time to time I would rest the cool bowl of my glass against my singed knuckles to ease the burn. This is a terrific wine, and I highly recommend it.
As the light faded and the explosions grew louder, nearer, and more frequent, I couldn’t help to stare contemplatively into the fire. This afternoon, I leave my wife and kids and fly to Chicago, to Istanbul, to Sarajevo, where I have a whirlwind itinerary that will hopefully keep me distracted enough that I won’t have time to dwell on how much I miss Zooey’s impish smile or Titus’s stories or Sonja’s soft touch. From Sarajevo, I’ll head to London, where I’ll be reunited with old friends and colleagues as together we attend commemorations, visit 10 Downing Street, and put on a conference that is two years in the making. Another whirlwind. While I’m gone, I know Sonja will hold things together brilliantly with the kids, and I’m grateful for that — as grateful as I am for this country and all that it affords those of us who are lucky enough to live here. Happy Independence Day, everyone. I’ll try to write to you from abroad.
Cheers to the liberties we did not earn, did not have to fight for, do not deserve, and should always cherish,