The lofty goal is still something we work for

The lofty goal is still something we work for
                        

It’s hard to predict how the corn crop will do this summer, at least for a nonfarmer like me.

Even if it weren’t, it’s hard to predict anything at all about the remainder of 2020. Based on the horror show we’ve had so far, all bets are off. But from what we’re seeing in the plentiful corn and soybean fields around my house, it should be pretty bountiful, with full rows of plants already beyond respectable height for the upcoming Fourth of July marker.

At least grain farmers have a decent shot at a good year, and no one deserves it more.

With so much talk of Juneteenth, the Fourth of July has crept up kind of suddenly. Can we really be halfway through this unending year at last?

If you’re white and had not heard of Juneteenth before this year, don’t feel too left out. I learned about it about 30 years ago from African-American friends who explained it to me as a kind of open secret.

That day each year without telling everyone or making a fuss publicly, Blacks quietly took the day off while employers quietly looked the other way and gathered with family and friends to mark the end of slavery.

The personal experience of being Black in America is really unknowable for whites, and Juneteenth was a gathering to acknowledge, on an intimate, personal level, all they’d endured in the last four centuries.

As I understood it, it really wasn’t a party whites were invited to or to whom it had to be explained. Not something to be taught generally, not something writ large or needing a federal holiday for everyone, but a way to remember that in their families there was someone who got up one morning and knew for the first time they were, at least technically, free.

The way the day is marked may or may not be broadened or changed from here on out, but whether or not those changes come is rightfully in the hands of those for whom the day has the most meaning. Whether or not we learned about Juneteenth in school, it deserves all the respect any of us can muster.

Fourth of July, on the other hand, is a grand opportunity for all of us to celebrate together as a nation, no matter what part of that nation’s past our families can claim. On that day every person, no matter who they are or where on the globe they stand, can look to the ideals of freedom that sparked the American Revolution and in turn democratic revolutions all over the world, continuing to this day.

The Declaration of Independence, despite its lofty language about all men being created equal, didn’t bring or seek freedom for all in the American colonies at the time, but the language survives, and the lofty goal is still something we work for and have to work for every day.

What will this Fourth of July look like? Will families dare to gather for barbecues and backyard fireworks? Will we be able to fire up the grill with the people we love for burgers and hot dogs? Or will we have to do it all over video-conferencing software, like any other 2020 workday?

It happens to fall on a Saturday this year, giving many of us Friday, July 3 off as well. Though after being locked in for three months, a day off to stay home has kind of lost its luster. Still, the pandemic is still in full swing, so be careful, friends.

Whatever you end up doing this year, here’s a recipe for a lighter, less likely to perish in the sun coleslaw from “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking” by Samin Nosrat.

1 small head of red or green cabbage, cored and sliced very thin.

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

2 jalapeno chilies, finely diced

1 small bunch chopped cilantro leaves

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

Juice of 1 lime

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt to taste

Place the cabbage in a bowl and sprinkle with a good amount of salt and allow to sit for 30 minutes to release some of its moisture.

Rinse the onion and place in a bowl with the red wine vinegar to macerate.

Once the cabbage has released most of its water, drain the water off. Pour off the vinegar from the onions and add those, then the cilantro, chilies to your taste and a good drizzle of the olive oil.

Add a tablespoon of red wine vinegar, the lime juice and half the lemon juice. Here’s where you must taste and tinker, adding salt or more lemon or vinegar or oil as needed. You’re looking for a light, bright result.


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