Patriotic prepping

My husband and I are the kind of couple who throw a good party every twenty years or so.  Our last rewarding bash was not quite two decades ago – I remember a Poetry Party held one cold October night at the dawning of the 21


century where the guests made up haiku from words printed on wine corks and we recited our favorite life-changing poems around the fire.  My high-school-aged daughter and her best friend donned berets and served appetizers along with French accents. That was a keeper.

Flowers from a friend's garden

Now that marriage has extended our small family, however, the possibilities have expanded for gathering people who share not just friendships but kinships.

It’s a good feeling.

Since my husband and our son-in-law have birthdays very close to each other and those birthdays share a national holiday, it seemed crazy not to take advantage of that synchronicity and hold an Independence Day bash in the garden.

F.S. & K.S. take advantage of the shade

The number of factors that cannot be controlled at any outdoor summer gathering were legion, of course:

the heat, the weather (thunderstorms always a possibility), the insects, the tendency of people to burn, the tendency of certain neighbors in Traveler's Joy (the ones in the beaten-down trailer on Shagbark) to pop open the hoods of their car trunks and demonstrate the power of their giant speakers to visiting friends, and so on.

T.T., N.B., L.V.P. & C.T. (Birthday Boy) submit to gamma rays from the

Sword of Valor wielded by Birthday Wizard (F.V.P.)

We tried to plan for all these eventualities as best we could, my husband erecting canopies and an oscillating mister for relief from heat and the southern sun (or downpours,if needed), iced drinks in volume, and earnest prayers that the Shagbark noisemaker be otherwise engaged.

He was, and the weather came through for us with the balmiest, most beautiful July day anyone could remember experiencing in the Carolinas.

T.T. in vintage hat

M.S. and P.S. enjoy the music

All that work in the garden paid off, despite the early heat and low rainfall that choked off bloom production.

If nothing else it was


, and the private corners tucked under shade trees and rigged with hammocks proved as inviting for our guests as I had hoped they would be.


Best of all, you could sit anywhere in the garden and hear the bluegrass band play ‘Ruby.’

If music be the food of love, play on.

Joe Sutton and the Rock Springs Bluegrass Band provide the vibe