July 4 has come to mean the true beginning of Summer. It’s a day of parades, barbecues, beaches, and fireworks. There are many venues for these outdoor events. My favorites are the impromptu backyard – or rooftop – gatherings.

This year, my family hosted a spontaneous backyard barbecue, with something to do for each member. Some folks brought the tasty and non-traditional main dishes. (This crowd appreciates the exotic BBQ fare!) Others provided salads and drinks. And the kids enjoyed basketball, bubbles, and ring toss – in between courses. The weather cooled down to “just right,” with a lovely, gentle breeze. Perfect.

As the sun set and the sky grew darker, I joined some friends on a rooftop to watch the fireworks. We figured we’d only be able to view one or two local shows, including the Hollywood Bowl. Instead, we had a 360-degree firework display!

“Hey – they’re straight ahead,” I called out.

“Yeah – and I see some at 3:00!” another friend yelled.

“Wait! Turn around – there are some over the Marina behind us!”

“If I turn anymore,” Anne* said, “I’ll get whiplash!”

Giggles! Unabashed laughter!

We saw patriotic fireworks (red, white, and blue). There were fireworks that looked like silvery drizzling rain. And one of the sites set off a display of what looked like floating golden balloons. Oooohhhs! Aahhhhs! Instead of watching one display for 15 minutes, what a treat to view an hour of stunning and colorful fireworks!

The simple pleasures…

(*Not her real name)