A narrow inlet off of the Puget Sound, Vaughn Bay seems the perfect place for family picnics come the Fourth of July. Having lived there her entire life, Michael's grandmother is one of the lucky ones, with a house overlooking a small bay of her own that fills with salt water as the tide comes in and leaves behind a tidal flat perfect for clam digging when the tide is out. In the early afternoon as the floating dock began to rise with the incoming tide, Uncle Ronnie was ready at the boat launch, prepared to join the other Bayliners that zipped down the length of the bay towing waterskiers and innertubers. His grandchildren, a gaggle of boys aged six and under, along with one lone curly-headed girl, were perhaps the most enthusiastic of the boaters.
Lucy the dog had her own fun with the help of a stick found on the rocky beach. Throw it out into the sound, and Lucy would fearlessly bound after it, dog-paddling determinedly back to shore in hopes of more. The weather was even hot enough that few people seemed to mind when she shook out her saltwater-logged fur in close range.
The weather, in fact, couldn't have been better, especially in a region famed for sometimes dreary Independence Days. In the shade on the lawn, looking out across the deep blue bay under a baby blue sky, the ridge of fir trees changing from evergreen to golden as the sun sank towards the horizon, it was difficult - no, impossible - to imagine any setting more beautiful.
As twilight came and the bay turned from brilliant blue to a silvery shimmer, more and more firecrackers could be heard echoing across the water. After nightfall, a call and response of elaborate (not to mention illegal) pyrothechnics vied for attention as house after house set off mortor shells and Roman candles, with some displays so elaborate that there was talk that at least one of the neighbors must have hired a professional. Down by the dock at Grandma Dulcie's, the blast of a mortor shell would cause everyone to look up in time to catch a brilliant shower of gold or crimson, raining down over our heads. Only Lucy missed out on the show - she lay quivering in the backseat of the car, too frightened to even chew her favorite bone.
For hours the fireworks continued, while some of us headed back to the house to roast marshmallows over the fire for s'mores, still with a view of the shells bursting in air, but without quite as much noise and smoke. By now the sheen of the pale golden moon appeared as if behind a thin, gauzy curtain, as the smoke from the night's celebrations floated lazily by.
It was time to head home, or rather, head back to the cabin on Hartstene Island for the night. As a few final firecrackers signaled an end to the festivities around midnight, we drifted off to sleep, closing our eyes to the beautiful view of the Sound lapping peacefully, framed by the Douglas firs and madronas that line the shore.
It had been a good day in Vaughn Bay.