A New Tradition for the Fourth

We begin our fourth of July the same way every year. My husband John and I pack up our two kids, some chairs, snacks and a camera and make the drive to Needham, Massachusetts for the town’s annual parade. It’s always a great time. We love the vintage fire trucks, the bands and the minutemen re-enactors.

The float I always cheer the loudest for — and encourage my kids to do the same — is the one dedicated to the town’s green collaborative, a group of volunteers working to make the community more sustainable. It serves as a good reminder to me that as we celebrate America on the fourth, we should celebrate all of it, including our rivers, forests, grasslands, coasts and wildlife.

Most Americans think so, too. Last year, a Conservancy poll showed that more than 4 in 5 American voters agreed that “conserving our country’s natural resources — our land, air and water — is patriotic.” And nearly 90% said that state and national parks, forests monuments and wildlife areas are an essential part of their state’s quality of life.

My problem — and I’m sure I’m not alone here — is that too often I let a busy schedule, home maintenance, and (I must confess) a teaspoon of laziness get in the way of taking advantage of what’s beyond my front door.

Not this year. In addition to my made-from-scratch carrot cake, I’m planning to bring a summertime “bucket list” to the barbeque. It’ll be my fun To Do List, the stuff I must do before Labor Day in order to get the most of nature. Here’s a preview:

  • Go berry picking
  • Take my kids on a whale watch
  • See the Perseid meteor shower in August
  • Camp out for two nights
  • Bag a new 4,000-foot peak
  • Volunteer to clean our favorite park

This fourth — perhaps while the burgers are cooking on the grill — take a few minutes of think of the outdoor places that you love most, and make a bucket list of your own. After all, as Woody says, “this land is your land.

[Image: The author takes her kids clamming on Cape Cod. Image source: Kerry Crisley/TNC]

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