July 17, 2020
I realize this is coming late but there have been other issues needing to be addressed. Fourth of July weekend brought back memories of past celebrations. Our family spent one Fourth at our parents in western Kansas when we were all twenty-somethings. The small town we were in did have a fireworks display, but they also sold fireworks. My favorite has always been bottle rockets. We purchased several gross and began to shoot them off using differing combinations for the best effect. Apparently one of the hot casings fell in the ditch next to a ripe wheat field across the street and caught it on fire. We all ran across the street to stomp out the flames, along with two boys who had stopped to watch the fun. As we were extinguishing the last of the fire, the local marshal pulled up and yelled at the boys that they were in trouble because he knew who they were. I hope it got sorted out because we all left.
When I lived along the Wasatch Front in Utah, they did not allow personal use of explosive fireworks. They get very little rain (around 300 millilitres per year) which causes dry conditions. Most of the water that feeds the valley comes from snow melt runoff from the surrounding mountains. When a friend moved into the state, he went to the fireworks stand his first year to get fireworks to celebrate the Fourth of July as he usually did. He told me how disappointed he was that the only things available were sparklers and glow worms. Utah is also known for its mining industry, so he went to a mining supply store and legally bought blasting caps. He took these out to the desert and proceeded to blow stuff up.
Arkansas has taken the opposite approach toward celebrations on the Fourth. Every year there are large demonstrations put on by every big or small town. These are augmented by the tradition of personal displays, some of which rival the town display. Amid the social distancing of the pandemic most of these town displays were canceled. They did broadcast a fireworks display on TV, but that is not the same as smelling the smoke. The dozens of stands in our town were still well stocked and sales were brisk. When we got out on the fifth, I was surprised to see empty shelves in every stand. There was also a spent bottle rocket laying on our backyard deck. I am glad it did not fall on the roof and start a fire.
THOUGHTS: Although humans are a highly adaptable animal, we do not seem to like change. The noise and smell of smoke that mark our Fourth celebrations throw our pets into fits of fear and trembling. Still, we just lock them in the back room and hope for the best. Many are handling the growing pandemic in the same way. We know how to curb the spread as most nations around the world have done so. The problem is it requires us to be conscious of others by wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. This is apparently too great of an inconvenience for some. They prefer to “lock it in the back room and hope for the best.” Change is coming and it starts with you.