Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Day

Independence Day.  The Fourth of July.  A day for picnics and fireworks, family and friends.

I remember as a youngster that we would take blankets and bug spray to the field at Lakewood School to watch fireworks.  There would be snacks, maybe a transistor radio.  In those days we did not live in that community, so while we might see a friend or two, it was not like a party for us.  We were there for the show.  As the sun's light faded, the "test bombs" would go off.  Bang!  Pow!  We knew the show was close!

And then the first sparkly, abstract explosion of color would burst in the sky.  Oooh!  Aahh!  In those days the color palette was limited; there were no circles or hearts.  It was simply fantastic sparkliness in the sky.  The most excitingly special fireworks were the ones with whistles -- burst up in the sky, then the high pitched "whhooooooooo" as the color trails extended to the ground.  Oooh!  Aahh!

My sister and I hated the cherry bombs -- their sharp report hurt our ears.  But we'd only duck under the blanket for a minute, because then there would be another Oohh!  Aahh! moment.

In our little community, most of the fireworks were small ones, and they were set off one - at - a - time...  You'd hear the fuse, pfffft, see the trail race up into the sky, then bang!  Just a few of the fireworks were what we called chrysanthemums -- filling the entire sky.  Oooh!  Aahh!

Fireworks came but once a year.  Not on New Year's Day, not for weddings.  The show was on the fourth of July.  So as the show progressed from a golden sparkle, to red, and very rarely sort of blue, we felt already the emptiness that would fill the next 364 days.  Oh, don't let the show end!

But the finale -- oh the finale!  As the recorded music played "Stars and Stripes Forever" (and we giggled and sang "Be kind to your web footed friends, for a duck may be somebody's mother..."!), the sky glowed with white, gold, red, green, bang! bang! bang! bang!  The crowd was on its feet, Oooh!  Aahh!  Hooray!

After the show, exhaustion set in.  Some years we might stop at Baskin Robbins on the way home, waiting in line for half an hour to get a chocolate mint chip cake cone, barely keeping our eyes open to the last crunch.  And always in the car was the heated discussion -- what was your favorite firework?

(I took the photo of the American Bald Eagle at an event presented by the World Bird Sanctuary of St. Louis, and Chikaming Open Lands.)


MaryEllen Schneider said...

Gorgeous photo, Johanna. Thanks for posting!

The JR said...

Great picture. I luv sharing your experience. You'll have to type out all the words to that version. Fraid I've never heard that one before.