It was the calm before the celebration storm. Anticipation grew minute by minute. My husband and I picked the perfect spot to plop down two folding chairs. High atop a crested hill of rolling green grass. Acres never ending. Fellow Americans in all sizes, shapes and races, having fun. Together. Wherever my head turned or blue eyes glanced, people played while children danced.
If I hadn’t seen it myself, the magic of the night might have been painted in an original oil by, Norman Rockwell. For the first time in years I went back to the little town where my children were raised to watch the 4th of July fireworks display.
So much fun to see young parents carrying backpacks bulging with infants. Gurgling rounds of peachy tops springing up and down. Big eyes saying, “Hello,” to me. Giggling toddlers wearing patriotic colors while playing games just imagined. “Steal Mommy’s Purse-Run Away,” or “Six-Pack of Kids-Roll Down the Hill!”
Off in the distance, a sea of bobbers waving in blonde, brunette and red-headed colors. Others in dove grey while some…whoops…none at all! Nearby, a lattice pavilion painted in bright white. To my delight, a band tuned underneath twinkling star lights. Music together with singers entertained the crowd before darkness fell.
A lovely sun set. Close-by, an elderly couple holding hands. He, dressed in a snappy blue shirt tucked in plaid pants. She of warm, rosy cheeks wearing modern jeans. Crisp white blouse with over the shoulder purse. A secret look between them made me smile to myself. Sighs of contentment. Years of happiness.
Promptly at 9:00, street lights in the park went out. In an instant. It was a sign that it was time. Suddenly everything was darker than before. Games of children stopped. Toddlers kicked off shoes to lay on blankets. Barking dogs no longer heard, while baby’s cries were soothed by Mommy. Teens sat down to watch, musicians put down instruments giving singers silent voices.
Up, up, up, high above assorted trees, “Oooh’s and Ahhh’s,” could be heard everywhere. For twenty terrific minutes, the sky lit large and wide with firecrackers of red, white and blue.
Obvious it was when the finale came to be. Tremendous booms and blasts began to crack the coolness of night air. Beneath my chair the ground shook like tremors of an earthquake. Just below heaven, I think, showers of iridescence glowed throughout the whole of an ink sky. Mouths were agape while gasps escaped at unexpected beauty.
When it was over, a soft rendering of “God Bless America” drifted under the roof in the lattice white pavilion. I could see the same twinkling star lights leave shadows above musicians. Plumes of shady grey smoke swirled, twirling towards the sky where firecrackers had nearly colored heaven.
How proud I was in that moment to be an American.