Last night I loaded the family up and we drove around under a glorious full moon, watching people shoot fireworks off in the distance. It was an enormous golden moon that upstaged all those moments of glittering, flaming chemicals.
It had an ambient light that washed out the sky, from the deepest midnight blue to a bone black, with hints of vibrating golden colors in the spaces in between.
The cicadas were raucous, drowning out all noise except the loudest of the fireworks. The ones that were meant to make an extra loud percussive noise, at a much lower frequency than the high pitched cracks one normally hears from Blackcats and Ladyfingers.
I love being out at night. I love seeing the moon in all her phases. Maybe that is in part why the 4th is one of my favorite holidays. Because much of it takes place after dark. And this year will be spectacular because the moon will be low in the sky making an amazing backdrop for the show.
When you are driving through the boondocks, you don't get a clear view, but it's sort of like a bizarre egg hunt. To time it just right to see a big flash over the treetops as you are driving by.
Sometimes on long stretches of open road, you can capture an the colors with other street lights and car lights. It looks surreal.
I know that professional photographers have much faster cameras with wider apertures, and tripods. And they are able to get in the right spot to capture all the color and fire without the cars and people.
But I think that in part is what gives these photographs character. It reminds me of long summer nights at a drive-in theater.
For a time, we all come together as Americans, to enjoy the observance of our Independence Day, no one asks who you voted for. We are all just there, sharing a moment.
The little kids are eating their icecream or drinking their soda pop. Sometimes total strangers just start talking to you. For a moment, it feels like it used to be, like the nostalgic memories I had of America, decades ago. And even though I know that it wasn't perfect then, that there were civil rights issues then, and hate and bigotry too. But as a child, I remember it differently. Perhaps because people held back in the presence of children back then. So for a moment, I get to relive that again.
For a moment we are all just neighbors again. People say "excuse me" and hold the door for you. For a moment our differences are erased as we experience childhood all over again through the eyes of the next generations.
It's always over too soon.