The Fourth of July Fireworks

The sun would set in another hour. Tired rain clouds, still proud, framed the sky, their burden delivered hours before. From the top of the hill, trees in summer leaf spread out across the valley.

Nothing moved. All was suspended until the sun had set. Even the trees were still. Yet hidden in their branches, thousands of birds filled the air with their evensong, chirping and calling, cheeping singing in gentle cacophony. Surely an alien would think that trees on earth were capable of speaking for so it seemed even to us.

Originally it was just Dave, myself, Ralph and George on the roof to see the Fourth July fireworks.  We brought popcorn and fixings for gimlets and while Dave set his camera on the tripod, Ralph and George lit up a joint in the shelter of the stairwell. I made myself a drink considering the best possible spot for observing the display.

The roof was of an old parking garage converted into a warehouse converted into artist loft spaces. Four floors up, it provided an unobstructed view of the downtown plaza from where fireworks would spring, come dusk.

The old-fashioned city spread out before us. Three-story frame and brownstone houses obscured by hundred year old maples stretched between our vantage point and the plaza — a monolithic complex of 14-story government buildings jutting into the eastern sky.

Rising from the summer evening streets and backyards like mist from a country field came the sounds of firecrackers.   Hundreds of firecrackers, popping and banging throughout the city. Occasionally, a skyrocket shot through the sheltering trees, scarring the sky for a hot pink instant.

As darkness approached , I could feel anticipation growing in the streets below. Cars scooted across side streets. The frequent  pop-and-glow of the home fireworks dimmed, and an expectant silence underscored the hushed atmosphere.

We had heard there would be upwards of 50,000 people on the downtown plaza. As we ourselves had retreated uptown to our rooftop, summery couples, families, laughing groups, converged  on downtown.    Fifty thousand people in the plaza, in a half mile square area.  Fifty thousand people waiting.

Throughout the city on rooftops and rises everywhere were thousands more.   Waiting for dusk and the Fourth of July fireworks.