Oh Say Can you …..do you smell smoke?
Last night was the fourth of July. Americans like to make noise on Independence Day. And our favorite noise making apparatus would be fireworks.
Now I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but sometimes it’s a bit much. I live in rural America, and I love it. But every July fourth the old man and I have the same conversation: Where we can go to escape the bombs bursting in air that seem to surround our five acre garden of tranquility? Canada maybe. It’s relatively close. And the dog vasillates between outbursts of indignant yodeling and cowering at our feet asking us to make it stop.
Last night was no exception–despite the drought–which has turned our property into a tinder box. A failed attempt at some ground work with heavy equipment this Spring left us with vast expanses of impossible to mow ground. Before, it was difficult to mow, four hundred bucks later, it’s impossible. So the thistle tower over my head now, and the golden brown rye grass reaches my waist, and even the field daisies and dandelions, which were rather lovely for a little while, are dried and shriveling on their stems.
All this made for a tense evening. We both had dreams the night before about fires on the property. So when the general ruckus stopped about 1:00 am, I woke from my half sleep state and stepped outside with the dog. It was a really warm night. The sky was clear but a little hazy, and I stood out by the driveway looking up and around at the dark outlines of towering trees behind the house, and listening to the quiet, disturbed occaisonally by the distant rumble of firepower. And smelled smoke. And heard voices from the neighboring cul-de-sac. Kid’s voices? It was just the slightest whiff of smoke, but it got my attention. I stayed outside for a while and waited for shouts, and sirens, and the crackle and glare of wild fire, but it never materialized. I went back inside and slept uneasily under the open window. Now and then I would rise and push my nose into the screen and sniff like a blood hound but the smell was gone. When I awoke this morning, everything was as it should be. Disaster averted.
But I know that next year, there will likely be a repeat of last night. And I know that my friend Lynda watched from her beach house as the fire trucks pulled up and attacked a blaze set off by fireworks next door. And I read on Facebook that a young man at a party had too much to drink and decided to set fireworks off from the top of his head and was killed.
The birth of our nation was no small feat. We are right to celebrate our Independence and to remember with pride our struggle for liberty and freedom. And there will always be some who need to do it loud in order to do it proud. And then there will be the rest of us, who love our peace and quiet. We will be waiting quietly for the return to normality, and silently praying to ourselves–America, America, God shed his grace on thee….from sea to shining sea.