I’m home from Iceland, about which I will tell more in the next column. But having traveled so far, I planned a quiet Fourth. On Saturday night, friends came over in the afternoon and stayed for supper, leaving around dusk. I had forgotten about the fireworks, but soon after they left, I heard the booms so I went outside and walked down the road a bit to see big bright blossoms of green and white and red sparks lift up from behind the shadows of the trees that edge my back field. The Harrisville fireworks had begun. It was too late to get down there for a good seat but this wasn’t bad. I stood on the lawn and watched the beautiful colors lift soundlessly into the sky, followed by delayed and muted booms. I stood there for a while, watching the colorful rockets zoom up above the tree, burst into beautiful patterns and float down. Then I heard booms behind me. I turned around and Dublin’s bombs were rocketing up from behind the trees to the south. I had a double billing, right there in my field.
So I went up and sat in one of the chairs in front of the house and watched. On any ordinary evening, it’s always a nice place to sit and watch the mountain, which was a dark outline against the darkening sky. Pretty soon, a few smaller bursts came from the top of the mountain! (Fireworks on top of the mountain are not allowed but I know there are those who hike up there on New Year’s and on the Fourth and set these off. It always makes me feel jubilant to see the result.)
In the midst of it all, the coyotes started howling. They are here, most nights, sometimes closer than others but it seemed to me that they were responding specifically to this extraordinary bombast. One group to the east were carrying on and then another group over in the southwest corner of the field started up. They howled and yipped and yapped and yodeled their protests for ten or fifteen minutes, all the while fireworks lifting and reporting, north and south of me.
The mosquitoes almost drove me back but the silent trajectories of these dreamlike fireworks kept me from going inside. Without the accompanying ooohs and aaahhhs of the crowd, the shrieks and hoots of the crowd, and absent of much of the noise of these explosions, it was almost like a mime performance of our annual ritual. Color and light without the noise. A small plane drifted overhead, circling around and coming back, providing a lazy background drone. I could imagine their view of this double header from up there. This all went on for about half an hour, Harrisville was about ten minutes ahead of Dublin and their big finale was so big and bright, it lit up the field across the road like lightning. After Harrisville grew silent, Dublin’s finale went off — a lot of pops and whistles, fountains of color and spark. From the mountain emerged one more celebration, an arrow of white, straight into the air. The coyotes had settled down and the plane was gone. And so then there was silence, the usual silence of any ordinary night, which this one was not.