OLD LYME, Conn. _ The sea and sky are streaked with lavender and orange, although the colors are dimming fast as the night darkens.
It's the Fourth of July, and we're on Hawk's Nest Beach in Old Lyme, Conn., a rim of paradise on Long Island Sound. The beach is busy and getting busier as rumors have spread from cottage to cottage about a fireworks show tonight.
Several people sit on beach chairs; others mill about, talking, drinking, socializing with new neighbors and old friends from previous summers.
The waves are small but relentless, falling as soothingly as a baby's breath. The sand is cool on bare feet and my toes dig in. A light breeze is blowing and as I breathe in the salt air, I can feel my blood pressure drop. Stress melts away because we aren't home, aren't on call, have no television or phone.
We don't know what's going on in Iraq or Afghanistan, Washington or Albany, and for a week, we don't want to know.
We're eight strong _ our four plus our daughter's best friend, Uncle Chet, Alice and Cousin Bruce _ on a vacation we wouldn't have booked if we'd foreseen the financial shenanigans of the last year. It's a good thing we have no foresight, I think, because we've finally made it to the water's edge.
``I would have thought we could see something from here,'' Uncle Chet tells Buddy, who's 8, and the two teenagers, who are dying to be off on their own.
More people are pouring out of cottages now, some with beers in hand, kids in tow, old and young, short and tall, black and white, gathering to celebrate the nation's birthday.
``Maybe they don't allow fireworks on the beach,'' says Alice.