Beliefnet
Beginner's Heart

I adore fireworks. And although Americans associate them w/ the Fourth, I grew up in places where fireworks might happen on any holiday. Where there are large Chinese communities, there are often fireworks. For seasonal festivals, for New Year’s, to frighten away evil spirits and bad luck. Generally good things to have around!

It always seems fitting to me that we celebrate Independence Day with fireworks — symbolic of the fiery Revolution, of our hot-headed politics, and just so darn incendiary!

When my sons were little, they would make the run (with their father :)) to Arkansas to pick up fireworks not for sale here in Oklahoma: BIG Black Cats, cherry bombs (beloved of so many boys, & girls, of all ages…). We always spent the 4th at the lake, w/ my wonderful in-laws. We would drag the porch chairs out to the stairs overlooking the drive, and Glen & the boys would light fireworks in the black country night. All day the preview — Black Cats & smokey snakes and the loud BANG of whatever the boys could blow up — would have the family dogs sheltering in the kitchen, under the breakfast table.

After our hamburgers & watermelon, it was fireworks time. For me, the 4th of July is inseparable from the smell of gunpowder, charcoal, and cooked beef.  The taste of salted watermelon. We must have celebrated 20+ Fourths w/ my in-laws before Dad died and  Mom moved into assisted living.

But things change, as they do in this country celebrating its 236th birthday. And it’s very easy to focus on what seems to be ‘lost’ ~ I hear people doing this daily. Especially in an election year! We haven’t bought even a sparkler since Mom moved out of the lake house. The only loud explosions I hear startle me — they feel too close, not celebratory (we also hear gunshots sometimes…).

Despite the lack of gunpowder, there were hamburgers today. No watermelon, but a pyramid of fresh sweet peaches, and a platter of Cherokee Purple tomatoes. It’s still a hot Oklahoma July day, w/ explosions in the distance, under a clear blue sky.

This year, we plan to go to my sister’s place, which overlooks the city’s fabulous display over the river. It will be different, but still good. I figure someone else will be lighting the fuses, and someone else will do the cleanup the next day. And no, there will be no Roman candles, no Black Cats, not even a snake. That’s okay w/ me. I’ll be focusing on the palm shells, and spider lights, and chrysanthemums, and peonies ~ blooming incandescence…

I wish I could convince myself ~ and others ~ to do this w/ the birthday girl. Let’s celebrate the enormous beauty America offers, instead of worrying that things aren’t how they used to be. There are so many things that are right. And surely, on her birthday, we can all agree on that…?

 

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