I love my neighbors, here on Planet Outer Linebrook, and never more than on the Fourth of July, when all the illegal fireworks get set off.
This year was better than ever. Yes, outer Linebrook’s vast expanses of woods and meadows were crinkly-dry — a massive tinderbox of fire hazard just waiting to happen — but the wind was blowing gently away from my property on the evening of the Fourth. So I was able to watch the annual neighborhood fireworks from the comfort of my back porch without worrying about the incendiary sparks drifting onto my “back acre,” which at this point in the summer is mostly kindling just waiting to be ignited.
This was a standout year for fireworks out here: well planned, well timed, well executed. In past years, the neighborhood fireworks have been somewhat more amateurish:
Shoot off a few, cops get called, shoot off a few more, cops stop ya, shoot off the last of them, neighbors applaud, it’s over.
This year, it was way better:
Shoot off a few, shoot off some even better ones, shoot off the last of them, neighbors applaud.
Why? I don’t know. Either nobody called the cops, because everybody else in the neighborhood finally decided it was just fun — or the cops are just exhausted trying to tamp down all the illegal fireworks in Ipswich. It’s 32 square miles of land area, for cryin’ out loud. How does a police force of this size clamp down on such a volume of illegal fireworks? It’s like six Davids with billy-clubs against 60 Goliaths with blowtorches.
(Of course, there are also other possible explanations. You understand that fireworks are set off in racks, and if you only have one rack, then you only shoot off a few explosions at a time. If you have multiple racks, you shoot off multiple explosions at a time, and your neighbors go crazy, and you’re a hero. I have the feeling that whoever has been shooting off illegal fireworks in our outer Linebrook neighborhood ever since I moved to Ipswich somehow lost a rack, and this year had to make do with just one. This made the fireworks program a bit less compelling, but it also had the side-effect of confusing the Ipswich police. “Report of illegal fireworks on outer Linebrook.” “Never mind, they’re done.” “Illegal fireworks on outer Linebrook.” “Nope, they’re done.” “Fireworks, outer Linebrook.” “Eh, forget it.” This is a waste of town money. Kickstarter was invented for such a time as this. We could raise money for an Outer Linebrook Illegal Fireworks Rack, to get the illegal fireworks back up to standard, and to give the cops a chance. I’m going to be first in line to contribute.)
If I have one complaint about the illegal fireworks on Planet Outer Linebrook — aside from how it terrifies my cat and sets the neighborhood dogs to frenzied barking for an hour or more — it’s that you’re never quite sure when it ends. You sit on your back porch and comment — “Oh, that was a good one!” “Oh, I love those!” “That was awesome!” — but then you assume something else is coming. (Off in the distance, you may hear the crackling and booming of other illegal fireworks shows, in other neighborhoods, but you know they’re not as good as yours.) So you wait for the next shoosh, the next sizzle, the next whistle, the next flare, the crack, the blast of light, the explosion, the satisfying ka-boom. But when it doesn’t come, when you realize it’s all over for the evening, you have a sickening feeling in the pit of your stomach that you somehow should have timed your last drink to coincide with the end of the show. And since you didn’t, you have no choice but to have another.
We might ask Mr. Hill and Mr. Tarr, our Ipswich representatives to state government, to introduce a bill that says, basically, If you’re going to shoot off illegal fireworks, fine — if you get away with it — but you must finish with something that clearly indicates, “This is the big, final BOOM.” Maybe you could save all the blue ones for the end. In fireworks, we rarely see blue ones. Maybe blue ones are difficult, or expensive, or something. So it would be reasonable to save them for the end.
I hope you had a happy Fourth. We loved it, here on Planet Outer Linebrook.