“What’s fireworks, Mom?” The puppy has been eavesdropping on my plans for the Fourth. Plans that may not include her. “Is it food? Do I like it?” Poor little sucker. If I go out with friends, she’ll be shut up all alone with all that noise outside. Should I stay home? Still, thunder has never bothered her…she’ll be fine.
“Well, they’re kind of like what happens when I win at that stupid Spider Solitaire game on the computer.” A two-dimensional and unbelievably boring display compared to the real thing, but hey when you’ve gotta entertain a dog, you do what you must. “Want to see them? I could win a fast game for you.”
“Not on your life! Stupid, stupid, stupid game. When I hit your arm I make you lose sometimes, huh? That’s the only fun part!” The puppy giggles her “Hickety, Hickety, Hickety” laugh and jumps to the back of my chair to attack the keyboard.
“That’s right. Very, very annoying when you do that.” I begin the game anyway. The art of annoyance is an art at which the puppy excels. Actually, the game itself is a phenomenal waste of time. What used to be relaxing has become just another chore on the plastic box. I’d like to permanently delete it, but like any good addict, sometimes ya just gotta have it. Maybe I’ll delete it tomorrow. I manage to win a fast game, for the amusement of the puppy of course.
“If those’re fireworks, then they’re not much, Mom. I feel I don’t care to see them, so there!” The puppy cants her head regally. The Queen has made her decision. No Royal Fireworks.
Timing in life is everything they say, and sometimes it’s later than you think! Just as the puppy has nixed the paltry computer display, the woods outside the library window reverberate with what is either a long-awaited invasion from our Canadian neighbors or the just-discussed fireworks. I choose the latter, remembering that Canadians are in fact a jolly lot and that the fairgrounds down the road have planned a family day. No exactly Macy’s Over the Hudson, but still a bright spot in the evening.
“Come, come, come. Let’s go!” The puppy isn’t frightened by the noise, just a little bewildered, still staring at the computer screen display, eyes spinning to the beat of the programming. I tip the chair out from under her and she finally scoots along towards the door. “Let’s go see some real fireworks. Get in the car!”
A private road (okay, a cowpath) forks off my driveway, leads uphill to an abandoned gravel pit, a flat plain high above the surrounding trees, perfect for fireworks viewing. The puppy and I bounce along as I gun the Volvo through the puddles, over the humps and bumps, cross-country through the grass and the low junipers, executing moves that a dirt bike would be loathe to attempt until we reach our private viewing area. The puppy and I recline on the hood of the trusty Volvo, look up into the clear black void, and see….nothing! Zilch. Nada. Bupkis.
“Where’s the works, Mom? Where they be? I don’t see nuffin’ and there’s skeeters and creepy stuff and I’m thirsty and I wanna biscuit and this is just worser and worser than that ‘puter thing. No works. No works at all. Big, big bummer.” The Queen has become the Pouting Princess. Not a pretty sight!
“Well, our town is really tiny and the fairgrounds are really small, so maybe those booms were all there were. Guess we missed them.” My tongue is toying with something foreign in my mouth which I can only hope is a piece of gravel. I could use a drink myself. A big one. The Volvo is more than a little dusty from my go-for-broke race to the top. You could easily write ‘big loser’ on the now-filthy windshield. The puppy seems dejected. I revved her up for nothing. I am a big loser. I’m dusty enough to write it on my own forehead. I start up the Volvo for the trip back down.
Vrooom. Vroom. BOOM. Oh, crap. Now what. But it’s not the Volvo, it’s the fireworks. YAY! Suddenly the sky above us is ablaze with shooting colors, a bombardment of excitement, complete with those delayed percussive knots that feel like a punch in the solar plexus.
“Wow. Ooooh, Mom. It’s bee-u-ti-ful! The works, Mom. It’s the works!” The puppy is spellbound with delight and I must admit that I myself am more than pleased. I remember the Fourths of my own childhood, sitting on a blanket with my folks while my father blew smoke rings from his cigarette to keep the bugs away.
I lean with the puppy against the Volvo in an abandoned gravel pit on a summer night and I am strangely happy to do so. We all have our celebrations. This was ours. We hope yours was as lovely.
Causes Mara Buck Supports
Kennebec Valley Humane Society, Amnesty International