C’mon Baby Light My Grass On Fire

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As the 4th of July rapidly approaches, I sit here and reminisce about our country’s Independence Day and the memories I have from when I was a child.

From the age of 8 years old, until I was almost 19; I lived in a very small town in the upper part of Michigan, not to be confused with the Upper Peninsula. I don’t remember doing a lot of things on the national holiday at my father’s house in that small town. Most years, crowds of people would flock to the Ausable River where they could see the little city’s puny fireworks show. As a child any and all fireworks shows look amazing and produce the signature ooh’s and ahh’s.

It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s and living in Las Vegas did I realize the true beauty of huge firework displays. Whereas most of the entire city flocked to ‘The Strip’ and ‘Fremont Street’, I had small children and it was too much of a hassle to battle overly drunken crowds of that magnitude. Fortunately, for my kids and I, there were plenty of places off the beaten path where we could catch those giant, colorful, gloriously booming stimuli in the night sky.

Still, watching those magnificent displays of our nation’s pride and joy couldn’t be trumped by one specific childhood memory I have of long ago.

It was summer, a hot and sticky, worst drought ever, Michigan heat wave. My younger sister Jessica and I were at our mom’s house in Mt. Morris for our summer vacation. Mom was always on the go, so for the most part we spent much of our vacation days at one of her friends’ houses. This particular 4th of July was no different.

She took us over to one of her good friends, Fred’s house. This had to have been maybe my second time at his house. There were many adults and some kids, three being my 2 siblings and I. Of course, the kids were anxious and restless from anticipation. I mean… Really, what kid doesn’t love lively fiery objects that go boom? But, the damn drought had rained on our parade, washing away all of our little hopes and dreams.

A  severe drought that summer had everyone in the city under advisement to not set off fireworks of any kind. The odds of starting a major uncontrollable fire were far too high of a risk warned the city officials.

However, Fred being the greatest and most genial of all the adults, tells us that if he were to strategically place one measly  firework on the picnic table it would be perfectly safe. All of the children delightfully screamed, myself included. Because even though it was technically illegal, it is what the 4th of July is all about, right?  We were free men and women. We were free of the English tyrants. We were independent, free to do as we damn well pleased… FREE TO BREAK THE F**KING RULES MAN!!! *Said in my best Janis Joplin voice* WOOOOOOOOO!!!! Way to go, stick it to the man, Fred.

First Fred placed a little green army tank on the picnic table and lit it. Eyes glued to the table, we waited for it to do something patriotic. Without disappointment, it soon started racing down that table, leaving fiery tread marks behind it. The table had been just as dry as the grass.

Still, that little incident didn’t deter Fred the Magnificent. He grabbed another miniature firework, placed it in the middle of the picnic table, and lit it.

We all stood there staring at it. Then suddenly it started spinning; faster and faster and faster and then…it shot up into the sky.

Blinded by the mid-day sun we lost sight of  it for a moment but, soon it reappeared in all its fantastical glory.

It had landed on a patch of grass in the backyard catching it on fire. Someone scurried to go get the water hose to put it out. The little hellish firework jumped up again. By this time adults and children were screaming but not from delight. In the meantime, the little firework that could, had landed and caught a second spot of the yard on fire.

By the time the hose was retrieved and the flames doused, there were 3 burnt crop circles in Fred’s back yard. Now, I’m sure that Fred and the rest of the adults weren’t happy with that Independence Day fiasco. But for me… BEST 4TH OF JULY MEMORY EVER!!!

11 thoughts on “C’mon Baby Light My Grass On Fire

  1. Kathie says:

    This was awesome!! Last year for the first time in my memory of over 35 years of living in Texas (very hot and dry in the summer) we were in such severe drought conditions that fireworks were completely banned. I felt really sorry for those people that sell them for extra money as they were out whatever they had spent. They didn’t even do the controlled city one either. It was really sad to not be able to have that one staple that seems to make this holiday special.

    • InJensMind says:

      Hi Kathie I can only imagine how bad it was in Texas. I remember the news talking about the heat there. It is a terrible thing when someone’s business can’t make ends meet, hopefully this year it will be a good year for Texas and here in St. Louis for the 4th. We always end up with a rain storm or something. Thankfully we make it a 3 day event here. Thank you so much for stopping by.

  2. RAAckerman@Cerebrations.biz says:

    Ah, yes, the other patriotic event- the Summer Fire….
    I lived in a small village, too. One so small it is now split between two larger towns. Anyway, one of the local volunteer fireman (with two buddies, also VF) used to prepare and deliver wonderful fireworks shows for us every 4 July. (Of course, living in New York, these were illegal…But, since one of my neighbors was the town sheriff….)
    And, behind my house (and most of the others) was a veritable forest (the name of the village- Forest City) that provided us with entertainment at least twice a year, when portions became enflamed. (Those teenagers with their matches…) We would have multitudes of fire trucks, pumpers, and the like arrive to douse the flames. Parked in front of each of our houses, with hoses travelling hundreds of feet to the forest…. Parked on the sides of the Southern State Parkway going up the hill to the forest from the other side. For what seemed like hours…

    Thanks for rekindling (oh, I love puns) that memory…

    • InJensMind says:

      Roy, I feel now after reading your comment that I should have said something about Smokey the Bear and preventing forest fires. Such a shame. People can be so irresponsible. Every July 5th I walk out of my house in the city where houses are in close proximity of each other and I thank the Universe for my house and yard not catching on fire. There are always bottle rockets and the like in my yard. But, you know how people are. Despite the warnings on the local news channels to NOT let your children handle fireworks because of the accidents every single year, they still let their little ones play with them. It blows my mind. Thank you for sharing your fireworks horror story.

  3. Jessica says:

    That was quite the memory!! My father gives the kids a fireworks show every fourth of July with the help of my husband and friend’s husband. I’m not sure who enjoys it more…the kids or the guys as they get to light up and set things off!

    • InJensMind says:

      Yes, Jessica I know the feeling. When I got to set off fireworks for our neighborhood one year (it was my first and second to last time doing so) I was most definitely more thrilled than the children. I was absolutely enthralled yet terrified of it exploding before I got away from it as well. It was exciting and I was exhausted by the time we were out of things to set off. Here in St. Louis, well actually in a smaller neighboring city, they allow you to set them off but, only specific hours for approximately 3 days if the 4th lies on a weekend. Most people do not follow that lil rule neither. We watched these kids light a bottle rocket down the street and before anyone could stop these little rascals it had entered a woman’s apartment window and burnt a portion of her carpet. This is only one of the reasons why my children never touch fireworks. I hope you and your kids have a great 4th this year. 😀

  4. Martha Orlando says:

    Oh, what a fantastic memory you have shared here, Jenni! I got such a kick out of your story, especially with the errant firework carving crop circles in the grass. LOL!
    I’m old enough to be your mom, but I never grow tired of fireworks. I love them just as much now as I did as a child. Best part is, I can watch fabulous ones right from our deck at home every year.
    Thanks for a marvelous read!

    • InJensMind says:

      Thank you Martha. It’s rather funny how certain memories just stay with me no matter what, even with my memory issues. LOL I can’t imagine not loving to watch the fireworks go off. I look forward to them and then get bummed out when they are over. My kids though, only care if I’m lighting them. I guess if they can’t see me do them or the city do them they don’t want to see them. But, me… you should see me running from room to room in my house trying to catch some of the big ones my neighbors are setting off. Partly I do this because I love them and also to make sure they aren’t headed my way. LOL You are such a lucky woman. Fireworks on your deck without having to go anywhere sounds like paradise to me. 😀

  5. Scattered Musings of A Creative Mind says:

    I remember when they banned them here in Florida too! It was so sad and depressing… and no “Fred’s” around to save us either. Then again we saved MAJOR money that year, damn things are getting expensive now a days!!

  6. debra elramey (@elramey) says:

    So cute. Luv’n that little girl’s excitement over out-of-control fireworks!
    I have a fireworks memory that’s way worse 😦 We’d planned a vacation to Ocracoke Island and were planning on leaving on the 4th of July.

    But my intuition kicked in big time and I had to cancel the trip. Talk about a disappointed daughter! She was planning on seeing a friend of hers – a cute guy!

    Then, on the morning of July 4th we heard the following :

    “Bad news from WITN TV: WITN News has confirmed with sheriff’s officials there has been an explosion on Ocracoke Island in Hyde County…. Officials say Highway 12 in both directions in Hyde County in Ocracoke are closed, and all ferry service has been suspended to public travel and limited to emergency personnel only… The fireworks truck exploded this morning killing and badly injuring an undetermined number…

    We couldn’t have crossed the ferry anyway. And the moral of this story: pay attention to your intuition! What a waste of time and money that would have been!

  7. Dawn Sievers says:

    I loved revisiting your childhood with this one! Kids deserve those wonderful experiences that build memories. And there’s nothing more fantastical, mystical and fascinating than fireworks. Even as we grow into adulthood, fireworks still hold that magical air.

    This year, with this unGodly heatwave and drought, many of the 4th of July fireworks displays have been postponed for several weeks. At least they’re still going to happen, rather than being canceled completely! Here in my neighborhood, the whole week around the 4th turns the area into Redneck Central, with fireworks going off into the wee hours of the night. That’s when it loses its charm!

    I live quite close to downtown Knoxville which is situated on the Tennessee River. From my upstairs master bedroom, I can stand at my window and see the fireworks display downtown, and then the next three other townships that follow the TN River – each of those displays are visible from my bedroom window. It’s perfect – I don’t have to fight the crowds, the heat, deal with finding a parking space and then fight the traffic afterwards, AND I’m in air conditioned comfort! Best way, other than watching on TV, to view fireworks! 🙂

    – Dawn

Stand upright, speak thy thoughts, declare The truth thou hast, that all may share; Be bold, proclaim it everywhere: They only live who dare. -Voltaire

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