Admittedly, this was not my most memorable fourth of July ever. Considering there are times I have spent the 4th of July in foreign countries seeking reminders of home  and had a day so memorable that I wrote a play about it, this year didn’t have a chance to be even close to my most memorable such day. Considering just how tired I was all day and how little inspired I was to do just about anything, the chances of today being a particularly memorable day vanished to near nothing, not least when I had a conversation with my mum about certain circumstances that led me to avoid going to a 50th anniversary I was invited to, only I didn’t end up replacing that event with anything worthwhile or productive except for resting a bit. It was that kind of day, and although it is nice to comment on the productivity of a day, some days just are not that productive.
As it happens, today was not totally unproductive, at least in a social sense. Around 9PM a small adventuring party went to an overlook of the Clackamas River, put down some chairs in a small clearing off the side of a road, and prepared to watch some fireworks. Over the course of the time we were there, there were about a score of people or so seated or standed to watch the Estacada fireworks show. Although there were a great many fireworks presentations that were visible in the forested area west of Mt. Hood, most of them were fairly bland and ordinary, and once the show for Estacada started, it was pretty clear t hat no other town or village could compete in the area, try as they might to make their shows longer by firing the same few types of fireworks over and over again in a fairly dull and monotonous fashion. In some cases it seemed that Estacada fired more fireworks in a few seconds than some towns did in minutes or even hours.
Yet, as might be imagined, as I saw the complicated shapes of Estacada’s fireworks, of the flower petals and multiple blasts of color and jellyfish and so on, my thoughts turned towards the evanescent and passing nature of the beauty. Estacada’s fireworks show lasted only about twenty-five to thirty minutes from beginning to end. How much did it cost? It was certainly in the tens of thousands of dollars and perhaps an order of magnitude greater. Was this money well spent? It was a beautiful show, but could the town have spent its money better elsewhere? Is a spectacle worth that kind of expense, and does it bring anything of value except for bragging rights to a city? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good light show as much as the next person, at least when there aren’t rockets going off closely enough to wreck my nerves and make it impossible to sleep, but surely a small town with a somewhat stagnant economy can find better uses for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars than to see it go up in smoke in under a half an hour, surely?
Perhaps it is telling that in a nation like ours it is considered patriotic to light rockets in the air and be reminded of an obscure battle from more than two centuries ago, so that the smell of the smoke lingers on after the lights have died down. Thankfully, there appears to have been no forest fires started by all the fireworks, no one got run over getting from the overlook back to their cars to get home, and if people might be a bit sleep deprived tonight, at least they are alive and in some respects free. If the fireworks shows are passing and temporary, perhaps what they symbolize will endure for longer than the spectacle itself. Perhaps we need to be reminded of bright and shiny lights in the darkness to realize that the darkness is not all that is, and that when the night ends and the darkness is banished, the light is far more lasting than that from the rocket’s red glare, or whatever other color it happens to be.
 See, for example: