Saturday, July 3, 2021

Things that go Boom in the Night

It’s the night before American Independence Day here in the great midwest and the place sounds like a war zone. Not that I have been in an actual war zone, of course, but this is what they’re supposed to sound like according to the movies so I’ll take that as close enough.

Every year this happens. The annual War For Darwin’s Basement kicks off around the middle of June and slowly builds to a crescendo in the days leading up to the Fourth of July. On the Fourth itself everyone waits until the official town fireworks are over and then rushes back home to see if they can outdo the display – a process that usually lasts until the wee hours, leaves the town enveloped in a cordite haze, and costs several people their garages and/or fingers. After the Fourth things calm down slowly, mostly because there is less to set off with each passing day. The last fireworks usually go off around the 20th or so, and then all the guys nicknamed Lefty, One-Eye, and Claw put everything away for next year. It’s a cycle. You get used to it.


This year seems to be especially intense, it has to be said. Maybe it’s that I’m getting old and crabby and it just seems that way. Or maybe it’s that after a year of lockdowns, quarantines, social distancing, and stress of all kinds, people are ready to BLOW SHIT UP. It’s not quite up to the level of last year, when a significant chunk of Our Little Town spent their entire stimulus check and most of their savings on fireworks and kept things going until nearly dawn, but it’s getting there.  Once again the place smells like gunpowder and sounds like the inside of a popcorn machine. This summer comes after twelve more months of necessary restrictions and wholly uncalled for stress followed by a general loosening of restrictions among the vaccinated (though somehow not any less stress), so set out the alcohol and let the fireworks fall where they may, I suppose.

The barrage has been pretty constant for the last hour now, which at least makes sense as it is now dark and you can see them when they go off. Why people have been setting things off since lunchtime, when the sun was shining brightly, is a bit of a mystery to me. I suppose the boom is just as loud, but still.

Sometimes I wonder what this experience would be like for a visitor from another country where gunfire in the streets is considered uncommon. Honestly I don’t even ask whether it’s fireworks or firearms anymore, and this is a pretty safe town.

I’ve always liked the fireworks, though. Every year when I was a kid I’d head over to the local display with my dad and brother.  They’d shoot them off from one end of a public park that was completely surrounded by dense residential housing, stores, and a commuter rail line and just hope for the best, I guess.  It was a different time.  As I got older I would go with friends instead.  We'd picnic in the park all day so we could get a good spot for the evening. Eventually I went as part of the fire brigade, standing in the street in turnout gear next to the trucks in case something weird happened and we needed to unweird things in a hurry. They also serve who stand ready to unweird.

They’re planning to have the town fireworks as usual this year, which is a nice thing. Our Little Town puts on a pretty respectable show for a town this size and it’s always fun. We’ll have our usual little barbecue and head on over when it starts to get dark so we can watch the big ones arc gracefully over the cardiac ward of the local hospital before exploding, and then we’ll make our way back home through the haze of Lefty’s best efforts, and another Fourth of July will be in the books.

Sunrise, sunset.


LucyInDisguise said...

Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears

(Sorry, just couldn't resist that)

Thankfully, fireworks of all types have been banned in our little county. Our fire department extinguished 52 fires in and around Elko that were started by fireworks Sunday night.

MAGA MURCA - Makin' Assholes Grin As Most Urban areas are Reduced to Charcoal. Again.


David said...

Gotta love the idiots who think setting off explosives in a dry, tinder-filled landscape is a good idea. Or perhaps we just have to seal them off inside one of those landscapes and let Darwin sort it out. Either way.

We're technically in a drought here now (deeply weird for Wisconsin) but things are green enough that the fire department just shrugs its collective shoulders and lets the garages burn down as karma.

The War for Darwin's Basement continues here in Our Little Town - someone had some serious explosives last night, for example - but it's dying down.