Yesterday was my first 4th of July in the US in four years. We started the day with blueberry pancakes at a nice little café with a slightly overbearing proprietor who, upon hearing that I had worked as an English teacher in Russia and Sweden, tried to persuade me that it would benefit the world much more if I worked at a for-profit American school in Gaza that he helped found. While I have sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians, I also have sympathy for the plight of the Israelis (not to mention the fact that Kostia’s brother lives in Israel), so I can’t say that Palestine is going to be my next big cause. I also can’t see how working in a for-profit school would contribute to the greater good. Oh well. It’s a nice café anyway.

We went to the Independence Day parade in Canandaigua, my dad’s hometown and the place where I’m spending most of this month. Here are some pictures. 

In the spirit of American democracy and bad fashion, I wore my new ill-fitting Obama t-shirt to the parade, hoping to irritate some Republicans. I think I achieved my goal.

Marching band. This was about the only one, surprisingly, though there were bagpipers…

There was all kinds of culture, including the South Bristol Cultural Center, which, according to their banner, celebrates culture. That sounds pretty vague to me…

Good old Uncle Sam on a Vespa

Patriotic fashion…

… which is not as cute on older people:

There were classic cars to make a Dalarna County redneck drool

And classic fire engines too.

After the parade we wound up on an impromptu wine tour, if two wineries can be called a tour. Those of you not from Upstate New York might be surprised to know that western New York state is a wine-producing region. Too bad for my grandpa, who has lived here for all of his 89 years, yet is a teetotaller. I wonder how many wine tours he’s been dragged on in his life.

It was decided we needed to pose in front of this barrel


View of Canandaigua Lake

And a vineyard

And a winery that I really liked – both the atmosphere and the wine

In the evening we went to the fireworks on Canandaigua Lake. It was a great fireworks show, but I’m not sure that arriving an hour and a half early to find parking and then taking an hour and a half to get out of the post-fireworks traffic jam was worth the 20 minutes of visual entertainment. Oh, the things we do in the name of tradition.