Enjoying the familiar and comforting sounds of summer
“Bombs bursting in air.”
Memories of Fourth of July holidays when I was a boy are associated with the annual fireworks display in my town.
They were held at the high school football field which in those days was down in a narrow valley across the road from the community pool.
Everyone could walk to it, but some drove and cars lined the two-lane state road that ran to it.
People arrived slowly and began filling the stands that were built many years before on the steep side of the valley. I guess they held several hundred people.
There was a temporary wooden stage for some locals to entertain the crowd, but I can't remember any of them now. Sorry.
Opposite the stands and on the other side of the field, a creek meandered by. Fire trucks were on standby for those errant sparks that might make it into the woods from the aerial displays.
By the time it was dark, the bleachers were packed and half the field was covered with folks seated on blankets and in lawn chairs.
In my memories, the night was always hot and humid and people were elbow to elbow but nobody seemed to mind, least of all the little kids who ran about the field exclaiming their happiness with all the lung-power they could muster.
It was a community Fourth. You saw those kids in your class at school that you otherwise did not see all summer.
My mother took me to the event when I was very young. When I was a father I took my daughters. I remember Heather, still a babe in arms, being frightened by the loud booms and she and I having to sit out the evening, watching the fireworks through the car window with her in my arms.
There were great ground-based fireworks. Foremost I recall one that looked like Niagara Falls complete with changing colors and two battle ships firing shots at one another until they both faded into darkness. There was also a pinwheel and a “Happy Fourth” sign -- I think.
But, as is always the case, it was the grand finale of the fireworks launched high into the night sky that thrilled the audience of all ages. Sometimes, on the drive or walk home, you would see the grand finale of sky bursts in neighboring towns just over the darkened hills and you knew other communities were celebrating in the same way and there was a sense of comfort in that.
Today they shoot off fireworks for everything. Something as simple as a home run at a baseball game can be the impetus. For me, fireworks have lost some of their allure.
I never went in for firecrackers and such as a kid, but I did like the sparklers that somebody would buy a few days before the holiday. My friends and I would light them up after returning home from the community event. As much as the light, I remember their smell.
Holidays that bring us together as families and friends and neighbors are good things; they are most definitely a major part of our summers for young and old and all between.
There is another part of summer that I like and it has nothing to do with planning.
It is the sounds of summer.
To be sure, as you might be thinking, there are lots of offensive sounds of summer that might be classified as noise pollution. But here are the ones I like:
• The high-pitch sound of crickets at night.
• The mummer of conversations on a darkened porch as one passes by the houses of neighbors.
• The splashing and shouting and the radios playing at a community pool (though I doubt they are playing the music today that I am recalling).
• Music heard as a car passes by (ditto on the music).
• The buzzing of a bee (as long as it is not in your face).
• Children on bicycles, laughing. Or running and laughing. Or walking and laughing. Or just laughing.
• The splashing of water on a sandy shoreline or over rocks in a creek or from a sprinkler hitting a fence in the yard.
• The falling of a book onto a porch floor as the reader nods off while sitting on the glider.
Go now and enjoy your summer. There is much to see and smell and hear. And have a safe and happy Independence Day!
Meandering appears Fridays. To share your thoughts on this column (or on most anything) with News Editor Mike O'Hare, write to the Leader Times, P.O. Box 978, Kittanning, PA 16201 or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Route 22 closed in Delmont after tractor-trailer crash at cloverleaf
- Starkey: Cervelli’s inspiration
- More witness intimidation charges are filed against Plum teacher
- Vandergrift man accused of sexual assault
- Downie, Ehrhoff lead list of likely Penguins leaving in free agency
- Supreme Court justices ream EPA for ignoring costs to meet air standards
- Pirates hope 1st baseman Alvarez starts to regain power stroke
- St. Vincent professor, students use interviews for drug addiction data
- 80 percent of drivers found exceeding speed limit in Mt. Lebanon, Bethel Park
- Wet weather puts Three Rivers Regatta events in jeopardy
- Pittsburgh Public Works supervisor disciplined for text message