Happy birthday, America!

Happy birthday to our great nation. It’s Independence Day, and I hope you get to spend it fishing, camping, and having a great time outdoors.

Happy Fourth of July to you. It’s the birthday of the United States, and a day off for most of us. It’s a day to go hang out at the lake with good friends, barbecued brats, and cold brews. Or picnic in the park with the family. And possibly go out to the north 40 and set a good portion of your property on fire with Chinese-made explosives.

That was always the part of the Fourth of July I looked forward to the most. I saved my lawn-mowing money for months leading up to the last week of June, so I could ride my bike down to the fireworks stand and blow it all on M-80s, Roman Candles, Bottle Rockets and Black Cats.

I wasn’t the only one, and it wasn’t just us kids. My dad had a good friend who would take his ’59 Corvette out every year on the Fourth, just to drive to the fireworks stands. He’d spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on fireworks, and we’d all gather at his house or my parents’ house to set them all off later that night.

I don’t know if he still goes out and spends a small fortune on fireworks each year, but I haven’t in decades. For a while, it was because I didn’t have the money. Then when I got a job and had a little disposable income, the state was going through a drought, and there was nowhere I could set them off that wouldn’t burn up the county. But now, even though I could afford it, and even though the recent rains have reduced the fire danger, I guess I just can’t quite wrap my head around the idea of celebrating the birth of our free nation by sending my hard-earned money to a communist country.

Instead, I’m going to go fishing. Maybe camp out at the lake. Take along an apple pie.

Happy birthday, America.