red, white, & blue

red door 67, London

My friend's 10-year-old is a French-American who has lived all of her known life in London and has never celebrated the Fourth of July. She has never spent the holiday barbecuing hamburgers and hot dogs and eating watermelon—because, in Britain, American Independence Day is nothing to celebrate; plus, she has always lived in flats. She has never burnt her legs with sparklers or seen an ashy snake rise and twist like a magical phoenix before toppling over into dust. She has never known sitting on family picnic blankets at dusk, waiting for the sky to burst open with colored explosions. Fireworks for her mean other things, like the Queen's recent 90th birthday bash.

black gate with geraniums, London

But never having known the Fourth, she doesn't miss it. Perhaps the quintessential American holiday (in a tie with Thanksgiving?), still lies in wait to enchant her as a young adult attending university in the States. Or maybe, being half French, she will choose Bastille Day, or, as a child of London, maybe she won't ever understand the fuss of these nationalistic July bank holidays wholly absent in England.

red rose, Queen Mary's Gardens at Regent's Park

For me, I've been getting my Fourth-of-July reds in roses, geraniums, and doors, my whites in clouds and buildings, and my blues in slim-suited men heading to and from their finance jobs via the Tube. (I've never seen so many blue suits in my life, but dapper because tapered to the ankle and worn with smart tan Oxfords.)  

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