Sunday, July 6, 2008


Last night we celebrated the independence of our nation with fireworks. Several of my sisters have small children, and although the fireworks are not quite so spectacular when set off at 6:30 on a summer’s evening, most of us were watching the delighted faces of the little ones anyway and thoroughly enjoyed the show.

Our State Laws do not allow any explosive types, or areal varieties of fireworks, and for the sake of our eardrums and the timid three year old who was badly frightened by “loud fires” last Fourth of July, we remained whistle and bang free. So we had gentle Snowflakes, a marvelously silent blue and white fountain called Blue Ice, and some colorful Geyser Fountains the heights of which solicited squeals of delight better than any eardrum piercing manufactured shriek. This year we also tried out something called a Tomahawk Rocket Fountain, which is not a rocket and sits on a stick which we put into the ground rather than holding as the package suggested – I should have gotten more of those, they were not noisy or scary. A new favorite is born.

We did not hold the sparklers this year either. I remember when I was young the sparklers were taller, longer lasting – I could write my whole name in the sparks of just one sparkler. I couldn’t get half way through with the sad little sparklers they sell these days. Sparklers used to have lengthy metal “handles” too. Something long enough that your hand never got near the hot part and there was no real risk of injury as long as you held the right end. (You know, instead of getting out the “L”, and watching its dying sputters drop a spark on my disappointed hand.)

I’m not surprised we hear about states wanting to ban hand held sparklers now. I want to ban these skimpy sparklers too. Who do we write to about making the good old-fashioned kind again? The kind that used to cost just 99 cents and were three times the length of the current 2 dollar kind? I long for a lengthy sparkler with which to sign my name in the night sky. My nieces and nephews should be able to have that experience too – it feels like a part of childhood that they might miss.

There are all sorts of summer things designed especially for making childhood memories, fireflies are another. The evening willows filled with the glimmering bugs as we wrapped up our pyrotechnics. At least some things don’t change. Their silent flickers reminded us of special evenings being allowed to stay up late, with tinfoil lids on Mason Jars. We fed our fireflies, my sisters and I. Certain they would need to eat as they glowed in our rooms for a night, we would fill their jars so full of leaves that they would often hide in the center and be only a soft green flicker through foliage.

“Look at all the fireworks.” The child said to me last night, pointing at those very well designed sparklers of the summer night. They filled the twilight with a twinkle of wonder I had almost forgotten to see. Thank You God, for not re-designing the firefly.

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