From hand-danced sparklers to eye-popping finales, fireworks in softly dark skies entrance me.

My love affair with the fiery displays began when I waited with my cousins and siblings for our parents to decree the 4th of July sky sufficiently dark for sparklers. Then at last, holding lit magic, we pranced and waved until, inevitably, our fun transformed to attempted brandings, the poking out of eyeballs, and the confiscation of our sparklers by chiding adults. Our family celebrations never included firecrackers, Roman candles, or bottle rockets—we couldn’t be trusted.

Community fireworks, not being participatory in nature, have always given me pleasure from beginning to end. I enjoy gathering with others and waiting for the night sky to burst into brilliance. I like hearing spectators ooh and ah in unison as dogs howl in the background. In 1996, I smiled when I learned Craig, my new home, had splendid 4th of July fireworks.

I even like the pre-game entertainment—searching for the perfect viewing spot. Last year, Joel and I drove around with out-of-town guests checking out possibilities. We debated the merits of several, before agreeing on a location in the foothills we deemed ideal, as did many others.

As we waited for the night to darken, we watched a variety of vehicles and drivers navigate the rutted, narrow road that loops and branches like a confused creek through the area we had chosen.

Some drivers flew over the bumps and ruts: passengers and headlights bouncing. Others crept along, swinging wide to avoid the biggest holes and trying two or three different locations before backing out again and cautiously disappearing over a hill.

Twice we watched a standoff as cars approached from different directions on the constricted roadway. Each driver seemed willing to break the impasse, but unsure how. Eventually, one gunned the engine, lurched up on the steep bank, and waved magnanimously as the other passed.

Most folks had settled by the time the fireworks began, though one SUV cruised slowly back and forth throughout the entire show. Perhaps the occupants couldn’t agree on the best location and their perpetual motion was a compromise.

As always, the fireworks amazed me: small balls of fire erupting into pinwheels, comet tails, and starry streamers; multi-hued lights falling like luminous waterfalls; willows of color fading into the black background of the night.

Too soon, the annual moment of uncertainty arrived: some cars left, others lingered, and indecision reigned:

“Let’s get out of here ahead of the crowd.”

“But was that the finale?”

“No, couldn’t be, usually they finish big.”

“Stop the car, Dad! There’s more. See? Stop!!”

What a fine 4th of July tradition, these fireworks, what a wonderful way to celebrate our country and our love of its goodness.

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10 thoughts on “Fireworks

  1. I, too love the fireworks, except in years when everything is so dry. In those years, I fear that a fire will break out, especially in those rural areas where non-professional folks are shooting fire everywhere. Keep your garden hoses ready.


    • Being constantly in peril of low snowpack in the mountains and dry summers, we would enjoy a rainy day fresh from Ireland any time you’d care to send us one! Thanks for commenting, Read on. I enjoy your blog.


  2. Hi Janet- very dry here too this “Dominion Day” We did more subdued fireworks than you folks, my apartment is on the harbor over which they are set off. Also cannons are loudly fired off. When I was a kid the firemen did the display, we would play at the beach all day then warm up round the fire with marshmallows waiting for dark.. My Uncle Jack was a bit of a clown, he would take out his teeth and play on the swings, my cousins were embarrassed of their dad. I am tending a friends house this week out of the city- very large and quiet. Happy 4th to you and yours.


    • Sheila, your celebration sounds perfect, right down to Uncle Jack embarrassing his children.I hope you enjoy your quiet week away from the city just as I’ll enjoy a rather quiet 4th—except for the fireworks, of course.


  3. Aunt Beulah (Janet) You are right. Our family never indulged in expensive fireworks. But on a family reunion trip to Wyoming I allowed Mark to buy some illegal “bottle rockets”, He brought them home and set them off at the edge of a nearby desert in Las Vegas using a coke bottle to launch them into the air. We attracted a lot of on-lookers (but no police). I nevertheless felt guilty.


    • Why is it, Lawrence, that we siblings all do guilt so well? I’ve pretty much perfected it. Reading your comment, I had the most delightful visual of you and your children setting off bottle rockets. I could hear Mark and you laughing as they exploded.


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