By Ashley Lodato

I had noble intentions of writing something relevant and meaningful about Independence Day for this week’s newspaper, but with three swim meets and my day job of organizing volunteers and booth materials for the Arts Fest event at the Twisp Town Park on the Fourth, I haven’t had a lot of independence for creative thought these last few days. For the past 14 years I’ve had a sense of nostalgia about the Fourth, since July 4, 2004, was the last day I enjoyed any unencumbered autonomy; I went into labor on July 5 with my oldest child and since then have had the joyful but terrifying and binding responsibility of parenting.

So instead of profound thoughts on independence, I thought I’d share with you some things I saw around the valley that made me shake my head and smile, once again grateful to live in such a quirky and refreshing place.

The first thing I saw was courtesy of Teresa Mitchell, who came rushing into my office saying, “C’mere, you gotta see this.” I was not quick enough at that moment, but I later saw the item of interest: a man doing a cycling road trip, complete with laden panniers, on a unicycle. Yes, a unicycle. With handlebars. Being ridden across the country. You, too, may have encountered this man; you, too, may still be a bit awestruck by the audacious ambition of this journey.

Through this encounter I have since learned that mountain unicycling is also a thing — like mountain biking, but on a unicycle: evidence that the outer limits of human recreational innovation exist in the minds of the truly wacky.

The second unusual thing I noticed last week was a woman walking down the street wearing a hair salon poncho and her hair wrapped in foil thingies. She must have been mid-treatment, and needed to run an errand, and instead of spending what I would consider a perfectly pleasurable — even luxuriously blissful — hour reading magazines on the salon couch, she used her wait time to get a few things done. We smiled and nodded to each other and I was reminded of how much I love living in a place where people feel just fine doing that sort of thing.

This column’s neglect of the significance of the Fourth of July in no way reflects my lack of appreciation for the forefathers who secured our independence. On the contrary, I deeply respect the courage and vision it took to fight to live a life free from the oppression and tyranny of an autocrat who cared nothing for the common man.

PREVIOUSLY, IN WINTHROP

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