Listening to the distant fireworks tonight, I thought about the fact that in some places, some countries, those might be frightening sounds. Sounds of war, or at least confusion or trouble. Whereas here, for me at least, they make me smile. Not really for any patriotic reason, but for the memories. Memories of gathering blankets and picnic food, of packing into cars or if you were lucky, walking, to get to the “best” view. Maybe it was big sponsored show, or a smaller city-run show, or even, if you could find a good height, the whole thing spread out in front of you. Waiting for dark, running in the dusk, kids tied to parents by invisible strings of excitement and anticipation; is it dark enough yet? are they starting? when-when-when?? Then somehow knowing it was time, somehow sensing the migration, everyone running through the dark to curl up next to a parent or sibling, maybe snag that last piece of lunch, all eyes to the sky. The time between that first waiting and the first small, far-off “poomph” was an eternity…but once it started, it didn’t stop. Stars and wheels, showers and fountains, balls that fell to flowers that fell to sparks…and all the while the noise. Half bang, half boom, half the whisper-roar of the crowd, squeal of small kids and yell of larger, startled but trying to pass it off as excitement. Parents/adults laughing and watching and waiting, trying to guess the next set…is that the last one? Is that? Wow, that -must- have been the last, they can’t top -that-…but they always did, until the end. Until the sky was alight with stars, booms and bangs and thumps coming so fast there was no differentiating them, just one tremendous roar of noise and light and the being on the ground, all hearts beating in time with the lights, feeling the explosions on your skin. Then it was done, just a few sad sparks falling from the heights, kids refusing to leave until the very last star winked out, then bundling sleepily into cars, or carried home, tired parents listening to a replay of every little bang or boom, and you were separate…but for a while, there, you were one animal…one being…one child, watching in wonder and awe as the stars danced, and fell, for you.