It happened in that time crease that separates afternoon from the evening. The sun was on its downward slide and warming just one side of my face. A few light clouds were rolling in from the west, off the ocean, but the sky was mostly blue. I leaned back in my chair, kicking my flip-flop-clad feet onto another dusty patio chair.
There was an unopened book resting on an overturned milk crate turned side table. A breeze took the opportunity to pass on by, hummingbirds chattered and circled each other like lightning-fast boxers looking for the briefest of opportunities to dive toward the feeder for a few slurps of sugar water. It was there that it happened.
The succulents to my left were almost glowing green. Their leaves fleshy and engorged from recent waterings, with raspberry-red tips so vibrant they inspired me to close my eyes. I took a sip of the cold beer in my hand. I took a second, my eyes still closed, then a third, and that is when it happened. That is when the Fourth of July became a holiday for me.
Fireworks were popping in the background, but they faded into the cacophony of background noise that is the city, and I sat doing nothing but sip, sip, sip my beer. I did nothing but relax. It felt like the first time in months of pandemic, of protest, of politics I’ve been content.
The beer was my holiday. It’s crispness, chill and easy drinkability. Locally brewed with pilsner malt, it has a husky base but combined with Belgian yeast to create a light, almost effervescent body. There is a floral hop bouquet that tickles the inside of my nose, sending pleasure signals to my brain. With it I feel connected to this community, and also to my European heritage.
This is the first year, in many, that my wife and I weren’t traveling home to visit family for Independence Day. We go in July because we enjoy our winter holidays here at the beach. You don’t know cold until you experience Wisconsin cold.
There was no visit to a lake this year. No grill-out with the family. No potato salad, or game of Kubb. No cribbage or euchre. No fishing, and no American flag shorts to be seen anywhere.
But there was this beer. When I opened my eyes, the glass was still hovering near my lips. The beer glows golden, reminiscent of a wheat field in the fading summer light. Nearly perfectly translucent, the only breaks in clarity were the swirling trails of carbonation forming a near-perfect mandala.
Every song emitted from the speaker was the right one for the moment. Every smell, the neighbors’ charcoal grill, the exhaust from a passing motorcycle, hints of pine and clove from my beard oil, mix with the light yet distinctly bread-y beer aroma.
The overgrown palms in the neighbors’ lawn waved their fronds at me. I closed my eyes once more and did … nothing. No cellphone out to compulsively check Instagram or Twitter. I successfully ignored that book, and no part of me even pretended not to enjoy the peace of just sitting.
Since I’m not home with the family (who I miss dearly, and obviously, I’d rather be with you if you’re reading this), I also never try to get through a conversation about the upcoming election with Uncle So-and-So or get sprayed in the crotch by Cousin Something-or-Other’s unrelentingly cute kids who’ve commandeered the garden hose. I know I won’t be sleeping on a rock-hard guest bed, or in a tent on the ground.
I just drank one unbelievably delicious local beer, half dozed off, and let the sun’s rays wrap around me. That beer was my holiday, and I made a note to myself to remember that when life starts getting hectic again, I can take a 15-minute vacation whenever I need it. I’ll just go to the fridge, grab a beer and head out back to the patio.
- Pure Brewing at the Village, next to the Carlsbad Village Coaster stop, has opened for the first time offering, beer to go.
- Due to rising rates of infection and positivity rates, San Diego County has been placed on California’s coronavirus monitoring list. Bars, breweries and wineries not serving food will be closed, and locations with a food license or partner will be able to open for outdoor dining with food only.