The Fourth of July is a Textile, a Flame Stitch in Time

Steven and I spent the fourth at his parent's place in Barrington, RI, which is just off Narragansett Bay; the end of the night was a special treat: watching the fireworks going off in each of the coastal towns ringing the bay, from Newport, to Bristol to Barrington, to Pawtuxet to Warwick, to East Greenwich and Kingston beyond.

I hate fireworks. They're noisy and I can't wrap my head around the idea of buying something just to burn it. However, I must say it was stunning, the rippling black water and all of these sedate little towns bursting into flames, noiselessly, distant and abstract. It was one of the prettiest things I've ever seen.

And it occurred to me that glimmering as they did, washed, distorted and reflected in the inky black of the bay, all of these towns on fire created a flame stitch in the water.

Patriotism is tough for me to swallow. The aftertaste is too extreme, the undercurrent too dangerous, and my anecdotal understanding of history has taught me how ephemeral great nations, The Greatest Nations!, are.

How perfectly the broken pattern, dissolving into nothing, illustrated my thoughts on the day and our admittedly glorious nation: Here lies one whose name was writ in water.

But my it was pretty, wasn't it, while it lasted?


Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Nick, These textiles are incredible. Their beauty has me at a loss for words. Are they yours?? If so, what's the story behind them? xx

Nick Heywood said...

Oh, I wish I could claim them. I should have attributed the images -- the one with a black background is from the collection of Colonial Williamsburg, and the others are from private galleries. All three are Colonial American mens billfolds, late 18th century.

I'm a sucker for textiles in general, but I find these delicious. I wish my billfold were so lively ... the flame stitch is a cruel mistress.

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