The Rocket's Red Glare

In the first few minutes of this American Independence Day, I was awakened by the sound of fireworks in the beach parking lot across the street from our home.  As my senses cleared, I recognized the whoosh of rockets being launched and the visceral boom as they exploded high in the night sky.  Through my bedroom window, I could see the misty air light up with colored bursts, and I realized that someone had put some real time and money into this lightshow.  These weren't bottle rockets and firecrackers, but professional pyrotechnics, fired with purpose and artistry

The air was almost foggy after a day of intermittent rain, so the globes of color from the aerial shells were softened and enlarged, making them even more spectacular.  The deep thud of mortar shells as they were fired signaled the intended rhythm of the fireworks show, followed up with the fountains of colored stars and cascades of glowing sparks

Fully awake, I expected each burst to be the last.  Professional fireworks like these are both expensive and completely illegal in the state of Massachusetts, two good arguments for brevity.  But the beautiful display went on and on.  I watched for half an hour from my bed before moving out onto the deck for a better view. As I settled outside, I witnessed the arrival of three police cars with their lights ablaze. 

Our bold but slightly foolish enthusiasts didn't stand a chance since the grand finale was in progress just as the police rolled into the lot.  They were literally caught red-handed with a spectacular display of comets and starbursts filling the sky.  I heard muffled but commanding voices over the police public address loudspeaker and then, as the last trailing stars faded, silence filled the night once again.

And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?

-Francis Scott Key


Be well and have a safe and happy weekend.