This year Miss Iris didn't care to go along, so my family of bears was represented by my dear old friend, Travellin' Pete (seen above with his flag, resting in the knitting basket). He often travels (hence his moniker) and often in the knitting basket. He looks like an old bear and is made of lovely "distressed mohair", but he is in fact newish, (as well as Jewish), and was made by a highly-skilled needlewoman of our acquaintance. NOTE: "Distressed mohair" means that it's been rubbed up or some such, so that it looks old. Believe me when I say, Pete is NOT distressed. He may be the most laid-back teddy bear you've ever seen.
The advantage of going early is that you get prime real estate, and folks come out early to put down their blankets. (Folks do that for the Concert on the Square too, and it's FINE. There's always plenty of space, even for latecomers, but half the fun is getting there while there are still choices.) Because it was sunny, we put down our blankets, baskets, backpack &c and then retired to a shady spot under some trees for our nosh. We were in view of our stuff - but I still enjoy the fact that one needn't be TOO uptight about such things. (I once left my purse on the Union Terrace under my chair, realized it about five blocks away and trotted back - to find it exactly where it was!)
When we'd tidied up our nosh, we repaired back to our blanket and Donna and I pulled out our needles. She's making a Remarkable, Luxurious Afghan (using only one puny little hook, can you imagine??) and I was working on my Dr Who scarf.
As you can see, the crowd thickens early on, while there's still plenty of sunlight, and there's a powerful lot of socializing in general. Note that I was wearing my Fibertarian button, it being a Patriotic Event and all. Something that I noticed a little more this year than I had in the past: when it gets crowded like that, it's sometimes hard for parties to find their parties, if you know what I mean....and in this, our 21st century, there's a lot of standing-up people shouting into their cell phones OVER HERE OVER HERE I SEE YOU LOOK TOWARD THE TREES!! For MY part, we have a teddybear head-onna-stick (I'll have to show you that some time) which stands out in crowds when necessary. OK - the truth is, we bought it so Mr Dearling can find me at Barnes & Noble on account of I'm considerably shorter than the bookshelves; when I hold my bearhead-onna-stick way up in the air he can find me pretty easily. I think it sort of embarrasses him -- em-BEAR-asses him (couldn't resist, but no, I don't apologize) but it's highly effective.
Travellin' Pete had a question about Benjamin Franklin - he's been reading our "Farmers' Almanac" in the biffy, and Mr Dearling is very knowledgeable about Franklin, so they had a very earnest discussion. The truth is, Travellin' Pete is an unabashed flag-waving, tree-hugging, eco-liberal hippie; I've heard him shout "BITE HIM!" at the television set during Presidential Announcements. That's my bear!
Eventually, darkness fell and the fireworks began, to the