Archive for Thursday, July 6, 2006

Fireworks not objects of self-restraint

July 6, 2006

I let the evening light be my clock Tuesday as I waited to leave my home in Baldwin to photograph the De Soto community Fourth of July fireworks show. From past experience, I knew the show didn't start until it got dark. Here, fireworks don't compete with the waning summer sun.

Fireworks don't seem to encourage self-restraint.

Apparently, that patience wasn't shared by many who purchased fireworks the past week. Even though a pale wash of blue continued to paint the northwestern horizon, I was treated to constant green, red, blue and gold bursts during my 30-mile drive to the stadium. Perhaps those setting off the fireworks were whetting their appetites for bigger, better community fireworks shows or maybe they had to get up early, but it seemed a waste to start the home shows when their full effect couldn't be enjoyed.

That's not to say all were so tempted to get on with it at the earliest opportunity. My trip back was also highlighted with constant puffs of color.

It's a curious tradition. And since my mind can wander to strange places, I couldn't help but wonder what a space alien visiting earth for the first time on the Fourth of July would think. The celebratory displays might be seen as pitifully inadequate defense mechanisms and start an interstellar incident.

Back to earth, I noted there was a heck of a lot of money spent the last week on fireworks -- something I haven't participated in since childhood -- and that home fireworks are much improved from the Roman candles and fountains of my youth. Some of the sudden blossoms of color I saw on my drive rivaled those of professional shows, and some of the statement booms that rattled windows in our home reminded me of my years in Manhattan and the constant concussion shocks from Fort Riley.

When I heard those loud explosions the past few days while outside or before the house closed down in defense of the afternoon heat, they where nearly always followed by laughter.

There's no denying, carrying out acts of mini-destruction brings a lot of joy. We get that whole North Korean thing, a synchronistic happenstance that no pundit could let pass (although maybe they should have, because high paid cable TV authorities should be able to do better than such an observation tickling everyone's frontal lobe). Too bad, their most expensive display (variously said to have the range to hit Alaska or Los Angeles, but apparently more a threat to North Korean beaches) was a dud.

Kim Jong II just doesn't get the whole saber rattling concept. That's an act reserved for the big dog and not some favorite-son dictator and fifth-rate movie director abusing one of the world's most dismal nations. And if you're going to rattle a saber, it ought to rattle and not sound like self-mockery.

But as my drive Tuesday suggests: If you've got them, you shoot them -- premature or not. It's human nature.

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