It was a perfect Alabama 4th, the cousins were all together, running laps around the house or bouncing down the stairs in various, “How about this for next year?” Halloween costumes, trying to fill the hours until good dark. The ribs were meaty and smokey, not overdone, and the tomatoes, which I am truly learning to like, it’s so long past time I did so, from the garden ones, that is, were sweet and tender.
It had been overcast all day, though a far away thundering had begun about 1:00 pm. Kids prayed off rain and watched the sky to the west flicker with flecks of lightning. They were terrified of a rain out. We adults, well, we were torn and not so obliged to terror. We desperately needed the rain.
About 6pm, the thunder abated and a soft rain began to fall. Everything: street, house tops, grass and overhanging tree branches got a sufficient soaking. And darkness fell early.
As the gray light faded, the streets filled with bare footed children, admonished by mamas to get on some shoes, and lighters and the standard stock of street pyrotechnics. Of course, we had all been to a super show on Saturday night, our church hosts a show for our city, that mattered not. It was July 4th, and no self-respecting child in Alabama wants to see that pass without a sparkler in his or her hand.
Now I am not endorsing small children and sparklers. Two of my closest friends have spent a combined twenty years in the ER, I know the tales. I also know that one of them, the one who stood next to me last night in the nearly unnoticeable rain, passed them out as well. There are some things in life, well, worth the risk every now and then, like ribs and death by chocolate. A life without such experience seems a tragedy.
So, as the thunder moved on toward Georgia and the rain slowed to a few random drips, we stood back to watch summer’s most sought spectacle: little children alit with sparklers, dancing about warm pavement, writing their names in the dense dark air, squealing at the magic and sweetness of the night.