On a hot summer night years ago, I was around 9 years old, sitting in the back seat of my parents’ car with my feet up on the seat and my forehead resting on my knees, my eyes shut tight with my long strawberry blond hair draping over my legs, and both hands covering both ears very tightly to block out the noise that sounded like bombs dropping on the earth below. I looked up slowly and saw a bright flash that lit up the sky, followed by a rain of blues, reds, greens and whites streaming down in the black sky. Then I heard another boom, and I immediately tucked my head back down with hands on my ears. Then, the bangs were coming one after another—flash, boom, sizzle, boom—raining more bright colors like stars falling from the sky. I was terrified and crying, begging for it all to stop. Then, after what seemed like an eternity, it was finally over. I took my hands off my ears and looked outside the car window to see my parents, brother and hundreds of other people cheering, clapping and yelling in excitement in front of their parked cars.
These displays of noise and lights that go on every year all around the country are fireworks. And they occurred on the one holiday that I dreaded growing up—Independence Day. The 4th of July, where everyone celebrates the birth of America. As my family got in the car that night years ago, my mom asked me how I was doing. I said, ”Just get me home, I hate fireworks.” I looked back through the window and the only thing that remained of the spectacular light show was smoke in the air shaped like clouds, some empty soda cans, a blanket that someone left behind, and the long lines of traffic of people trying to get home. Now some 30 years later I still have a fear of fireworks that I never overcame, even though now the 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays. Avoiding all of the loud bangs can be challenging—I watch fireworks from a very far distance (where talking miles away). I live in Rhode Island, where the oldest and longest parade in the country exists. 100,000 people line the tiny 3 miles of streets of Bristol, RI. I go to this parade every year to see the people dressed in red, white and blue, kids with noise makers, vendors walking the route selling balloons, flags, and other souvenirs, the marching bands, and handmade floats. But when I see the people marching down the street dressed in costumes of old colonial times, carrying the still-working antique guns, I dodge inside a building behind me and cover my ears. When the loud noises go off they make my head echo with pain and I jump so high I can be found in a tree. So, why do I love this holiday so much when I have to endure this torturous pain?
It’s a day where families and friends gather to celebrate. Cookouts and parties are going on all across America. Back yards are decorated with red white and blue flags, banners, table cloths, cups, and napkins. Food is displayed on tables with colors of the flag, such as cakes with strawberries, blueberries, and white frosting, cookies with decorations, cupcakes with little paper flags on top, and red, white and blue parfaits. Other foods laid out in colorful trays and bowls include pasta and potato salads, chips, dips and salsas. Smoke fills the air and sounds of sizzling come from the grill where hot dogs are lined up and cooked until they are charred. Cooked hamburgers and cheeseburgers are stacked on a plate, steaming corn on the cob is piled neatly in a pyramid. Next to them, lightly toasted buns and choices of condiments that make the burger complete, mustard, ketchup, relish, mayonnaise, and pickles with sides of lettuce tomato and onion. Coolers with bags of ice are filled with soda, water, beer and juice. There is music in the background and people are talking, laughing, and playing backyard games. As the sun starts to go down, small displays of fireworks from back yards light up the sky, kids are waving around colorful sparklers, and people pile up in cars and head down to the big town fireworks. This is when I usually stay behind, ear plugs in my ears and waving my noiseless sparklers around in the air with the kids.
As the 4th of July approaches, vegans are faced with family gatherings where we won’t be grabbing those hot dogs and cheeseburgers with a side of potato salad. Here is an easy, delicious and healthy recipe that is perfect for the 4th of July with its red, white and blue vibrant colors that you can bring along to the family cookouts.
QUINOA FRUIT SALAD
-1 cup of red quinoa
-2 cups of water
-Pinch of salt
For the dressing:
-Juice of 1 lime
-Orange zest from an orange
-3 tbsp of agave
-2 tbsp of fresh chopped mint
-2 tbsp of balsamic dressing
For the fruit:
-1 ½ cups of blueberries
-1 ½ cup of strawberries
-1 ½ cup of jicama (you can also add in blackberries, raspberries or mango for added fruits)
Rinse quinoa well, and then add to the 2 cups of water in a sauce pan with a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil for about 5 minutes, then turn heat down to a simmer and cover. Let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes until no water is left and the quinoa is fluffy. While it is cooling, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients. Once the quinoa is cool, add the fruits and fluff together, pour dressing over the top and mix together. Cover and store in the fridge to keep cold until it is ready to be eaten, and then ENJOY!
Image sources: Quinoa | btcnutrition.com, Fireworks | fortbragg.com