When I was a kid, there was nothing like sitting in a wide open field under a vast black sky, suddenly watching it explode with glittering colors and feeling the boom against my ribs. It was a visceral experience, something moving even at a young age, engaging all the senses—the crackle, the brightness, the burning scent.
I’ve only seen fireworks in Evergreen once, and that was the second New Year’s Eve we lived here. Something about freezing your butt off and watching fireworks from across the road sort of detracts from the experience I’m talking about. And anyway, there haven’t been fireworks in town since.
Now, obviously the pros of raising children in a place like Evergreen far outweigh the cons, but there is something strange and wistful about not recreating your own childhood memories for your children. And there are a lot of summers where we are back in Indiana for Fourth of July, and I get to watch the fireworks reflected in my kids’ eyes while they dig their toes into that good wet soil covered in soft green grass dotted with fireflies. It’s enough to make me weep like only a mother can, and also enough to have me wondering how we can recreate such a thing in our own gorgeous but dry-as-bones summers.
Breaking it down into the different sensory components of the experience, here is how I’ve decided we can recreate a fireworks show:
The obvious choice here is lasers. A laser show is the answer. But this is ridden with complications such as where and how to project, not to mention the costs associated with building a light show big enough to make up for fireworks.
So, as a conciliatory suggestion, here is my two-part plan. First, I’m going to get a bunch of poster boards and slather them in sparkling glitter glue, the kind with the really good reflective sparkles. This is the backdrop, see? Then, I will construct a costume of tinsel, sequins and those glow sticks that you can wrap into jewelry. I’m really committed to being covered in the stuff. I’ll need a couple volunteers, and when I give the signal, I will burst forth upon the stage, and the volunteers will shake flashlights at my costume and the background, catching the facets of glitter, tinsel, and my incredible jumping up and down that will surely simulate fireworks exploding in the night sky. As a mother of two in my late 30s, I should be able to do this for approximately two minutes before collapsing.
Now, this part is going to be easy. What I’m going to do is, I’m going to lay a trap across the road beneath my house—something simple—like a net or a rope on the pavement. I’ll lie in wait in the dark, and it will have to be an hour that any reasonable, functioning adult will have gone to bed. I’ll be ready, though—it’s easy to be because I’ll hear it coming before I see it.
Oh yes, I’m talking about the teenage boys who race their cars down our road after dark putting to the test their incredible speaker systems that probably cost them a year’s worth of paychecks from their after-school jobs (or, let’s be honest, that their parents bought for them). Yes, back in my day, we called this “houndin’” and I suppose it had its desired effect—all us girls would turn and peer into the car to see who had caused such a commotion, and were they worth it?
I’ll tug the rope taut and capture them in my net, cartoon-style, and I’ll invite all the children of the neighborhood to come stand by the truck to feel the booming in their chests while the parents fear damage to their ears.
My best guess is that the truck-capturing incident will be helpful in this department as well. While the burning smell might not exactly resemble the sulfuric aroma of fireworks, I think we’ll find, emanating from the vehicle, a smoky scent that is special to Colorado at least. I’ll perform my sparkling dance in the bed of the truck so that we have all the feelings at once. Then, we’ll all float back to our houses, impressed by how calm we feel after such a proud, magnificent display.
I know it’s not exactly the fireworks shows of our childhood, but there’s something special about taking a tradition and making it all your own, not to mention protecting the beautiful woods that surround us. We’ll enjoy the summertime sensations while making the forests (and the roads!) a little safer.