Once, when I was ten, I lit a sparkler right in the middle of our living room. This, of course, was a mistake, something a pubescent boy is predisposed to make. It caused quite a stir as the acrid, metallic smoke filled the small room. While I only pulled this stunt but once, mostly because of all the yelling, I can still smell sparkler smoke as I write this. That—and the sulfur smell of real fireworks—always reminds me of July 4th. Smells evoke memories like nothing else.
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July Fourth in our town seemed somber this year. Buried in the facade of its usual silliness, it somehow felt just a wee bit forced in its frivolity. Perhaps the same parade with the same floats year after year has numbed us all. Maybe the economy has blunted the usual patriotic optimism and fervor for everyone. Or, maybe it was just me.
Yesterday I was thinking about the 4th of July which is pretty obvious since it was July 4th. Our little hamlet is the host of a parade and art fair every Independence Day. The town dresses up once a year, puts on a show for the day and then goes back to sleep again. This has been going on for as long as I can remember.