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Fireworks: Big-sky Painting

“I love fireworks – the big-sky painting, the sound- wave pounding, the saltpeter smell of treason and plot. There is a primitive thrill to fireworks that is romantically irresistible.”

       – Anonymous

On July 4, fireworks celebrate independence. They light the world with noise and brilliance and color as people are drawn to them like so many moths to a flame.

But why is that? Why do our eyes light up and our hearts soar when these noisy, fiery things go off in our lives? As a reminder of war and fear, maybe we should be terrified. Our dogs certainly know something is wrong and have the sense to hide the best they can. As humans, we are not so wise.

Maybe it’s because, as the Katy Perry song implies, we are fireworks of a kind ourselves and we feel a kindred resonance there. Each of us is a light in the darkness, an individual spark of specialty and potential. Our short-lived existence flashes and burns out as we grow and age and die, all the time needing to make a mark, eaving a meaning behind in the sky.

One person I found on the mighty interweb quates the need for fireworks with a need to believe in magic: “As with some other things that are beyond what our ape-like evolution prepared us for, explosions are, at some level, very odd and curious things. Our brains are programmed to pay special attention to strange and unusual things – ‘magic’ things. Explosions invoke that curiosity of magic in our brains.” – Joe Huffman

For me, if I’m in the area, I always find the fireworks. Whether it’s Independence Day, Disney Land or the International Fireworks Competition in Montreal, there I will be under the exploding stars. It’s about being in the moment, feeling the grace and power, and letting the rest of the world go. This is the basis of that popular meme, a kiss represented as fireworks. It makes the heart knock against its cage and the rest of the world disappear.

Fireworks – and kissing – could be classed as extreme sports, exemplifying the best in us. The human ability to let go and delve into something, flowering into power, growing to fill the universe with oneself. We are forced to be there, be in the moment, let go of our stress, thoughts and worries because these fireworks force us to just be, we don’t have time to fret.

So, because I know it is in this sound and fury I find my peace, I strive to turn everything I do into fireworks, from driving to gardening and painting the house. I try to make the thing into the focus and the high. I pretty much fail at this. When I am washing dishes, if I don’t listen to my podcasts, I start thinking about work. When I am driving a long distance, if I don’t turn the radio on, I might fall asleep. Multitasking is what today’s brains do. This is why the fiery bursts are so important, emptying the mind, kind of like a reset button triggered in being overwhelmed by the cacophony of hue and commotion.

July 4 is a holiday celebrated by fireworks for good reason. Commemorating a day of release, the end of a fierce conflict and celebrating the ushering in of a new era for the United States, the magical nature of the rockets and fiery flowers in the air continues to resonate hope and a shadow of glory through our lives.

Southern New Mexico will be filled with color, light and booming in the skies on Saturday, July 4, this year. Anyone who craves that experience, whether looking for magic, mindfulness or just a moment of thrills will find it in any one of these communities: In Silver City fireworks begin at dusk and are part of Gough Park activities; In Sierra County fireworks are from 9-10 p.m. and launch from Rattlesnake Is land in Elephant Butte where state park fees will be waived for those wanting to watch the show from the shore; in Alamogordo, fireworks spring forth at the New Mexico Museum of Space History with the Museum’s reflective windows doubling the effect; in Las Cruces, a day of music at the soccer fields is topped at 10 p.m. by the fireworks; in Carrizozo the holiday is celebrated at Valle Del Sol Clubhouse with fireworks provided by the fire department at dusk; in Capitan, Smokey Bear Stampede events include a fireworks extravaganza; in Deming, the fireworks begin at the Southwestern New Mexico Fairgrounds; and in Mescalero, the Inn of the Mountain Gods holds its Star Spangled Celebration on July 2, closing with fireworks at dark over Lake Mescalero.

Letters: As you are enjoying, or disliking, the July 4 holiday and fireworks, please share your thoughts with us so we can share them with our other readers. Or take a postcard shot of yourself and a copy of Desert Exposure with fireworks in the background and text it to 575-443-4408 with your location, name and contact information and I will pop it up at www.facebook.com/DesertExposure as soon as I get it.

Writing contest: Desert Exposure will continue its longstanding writing contest, kicking off a little later than usual this month. Winners will be featured in our October issue.

As usual, the rules are simple: Submit your best article, short story, essay, poem or other piece of writing by Aug. 26. Entries must be previously unpublished and will be judged on literary quality and how well they express some aspect of life in southern New Mexico. Please limit your entries to one or two submissions. Maximum length per entry is 4,000 words.

Mail entries to: Desert Exposure Writing Contest, 840 N. Telshore Blvd, Suite E, Las Cruces, NM 88011, or email to contest@desertexposure.com. Include name and postal address, plus email address if you have one. Entries cannot be returned.

Elva K. Österreich is editor for Desert Exposure and delighted to be here and holding “office hours” in Silver City on the second Wednesday of the month (July 8) from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Yankie Creek Coffee House. Please drop by and say hello.

Inde-Pet-Dence

Food, fireworks and fun – that’s the scenario for millions of people who celebrate Independence Day on July 4, one of the year’s liveliest holidays.

Unfortunately, for pets that get frightened during the festivities, it can be anything but a celebration. Driven by a fearful reaction to fireworks and other loud sights and sounds, dogs and cats that flee from their homes often end up in municipal animal shelters.

Best Friends Animal Society offers the following tips to help keep your pets safe over the holiday weekend:

  • Bring all pets indoors whenever neighborhood fireworks displays are likely. Secure dogs in a room and play music or turn on the television to drown out the frightening sounds.
  • Keep pets away from lit fireworks at all times, including your own backyard, as some will chase after the bright moving objects and are at risk to be burned or blinded in the process.
  • Ensure that pets are wearing current identification tags.
  • For the ultimate identification protection, all pets should be microchipped so that they can scanned at an animal shelter or veterinary office.
  • If your pet does go missing over the holiday, check with local animal shelters immediately. Go to the shelter in person to identify your pet, rather than calling or emailing the shelter.

 

 

 

 

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