My father’s house is on a lake, and across the lake is a country club. For many years, and they may do so still, the country club sent up fireworks on the Fourth of July. My dad and I would sit on the edge of the dock, throw Merita bread to the catfish, and watch the blackbirds fly back and forth from the island in the middle of the lake. Before sunset (the same time every night) that mass of birds (more than you ever see these days) blanketed the sky and left for the night.
In a good year my father put me in his rinky-dink boat, and sometimes the sunset turned the water pink and orange and purple, and–just the us two–we’d drift out under the heat and with the mosquitos. Dad told jokes as we went (typically about taking a gator to school as a dog) and usually I laughed (and argued that even if you painted a gator white and cut off its tail, no one would believe it was a dog). And we, keeping an eye out for alligators, would wait for dark, and back then, it really got dark. Black. Night. We were far from town, almost no houses dotted the shore, and after those brilliant colors from the sun, the water changed to ink. If no moon lit the sky, we couldn’t see back to the shore where the dock and our home waited for us.
Then fireworks began.
Now I fight traffic and crowds and sit on pavement to watch fireworks over a river through the city, and I still think fireworks are magical, even if I know now they are not just for me.
Happy Fourth of July.