Saturday, July 3, 2010

Ready, Fire, Aim

As we approach Independence Day, our nation’s 234th Birthday, the staff at Finley River would like to explore some ways we who live in the country celebrate this historic holiday vis-a’-vis our city-dwelling counterparts. The chief difference can be summarized in one word—bottlerocket (which my spell checker says is in fact two words). The term bottle rocket has been around for millennia. In fact, most historians agree the projectile itself predates the invention of the bottle. The word(s) bottle rocket find their origin in an extinct Chinese dialect where it meant “firecracker on bamboo sold at six-for-one.”

You see, we country folk have a huge advantage over our city slicking brethren. We may freely purchase, detonate, and use as legal tender the bottle rocket while our urban friends may do so only at their peril. The bottle rocket, astonishingly, is illegal in most municipalities. In some cities all fireworks are outlawed, but the purpose of this column is not to criticize any municipal corporation which has a name beginning with “The People’s Republic of….”

But many, many, American municipalities, even those who freely promote fireworks extravaganzas, have passed ordinances against the bottle rocket ordnance. These laws have forced urbanites to conduct clandestine day trips to the country to buy black market bottle rockets with the express purpose of smuggling them back to suburbia, and in some extremely chilling cases, into the Central Business District. In many instances, these black market bottle rockets are then fired toward unsuspecting cedar shake shingles.

We’d like to suggest today that the bottle rocket has been much maligned in suburbia because the city dweller has not learned the proper way to enjoy the bottle rocket. Even a cursory observation of Fourth of July activities has shown us that the bottle rocket is not a fire hazard if it is never aimed higher than a roof line. In the country this is not a factor because we are too busy shooting them at each other. When your brother, cousin, or rural mail carrier is the target, the fire hazard is non-existent. (Granted, an exception may arise if your rural mail carrier happens to be hiding from you on the roof. If this happens, then all bets are off but we recommend cooler heads prevail and you issue an “ally ally income free” to this important Federal employee)

You see, while country folk are enjoying bottle rockets in this fashion, city dwellers are placing them in bottles, lighting them, and watching them soar at anywhere from a 45 to 90 degree trajectory. Said trajectory is like a beautiful football punt with great hang time that lands behind the line of scrimmage. It may look pretty, but it doesn’t accomplish its purpose, which in our case is by-and-large the infliction of pain on a trusted relative. Further, it offers the perfect trajectory to end up smoldering on a bunch of shake shingles. Not good.

Another key difference between urban and rural firework detonation can only be understood by exploring the eerie world of the so-called “Ancient Mystical Elements.” Evidently some philosopher of antiquity (with too much time on his hands) sought to distill all of matter into four elements—Earth, Water, Air and Fire.

Silly Philosopher! Evidently he conjured up this theory without consulting the so-called “Periodic Chart of the Elements.” Anyone who might have slept through Chemistry class, with their head cocked just right, would know that there are way more than four “elements.” In fact today we have a whopping 118 known elements to place and color on our Periodic Chart—and this doesn’t count other items which are currently being studied for elevation to elemental status—like Silly String.

But what does this all have to do with today’s topic--Fireworks in the Country? After all, everyone knows that gunpowder is mostly carbon (periodic symbol “C”). The point is this: We here in the country don’t just detonate fireworks (i.e. “Fire”) via the Air or from the ground (i.e. “Earth”), we also consider Water a key part of our July Fourth pleasure.

You see, a lot can be learned about our fragile ecosystems by detonating fireworks in the numerous ponds, streams, cisterns, & “potty ponds” that we have out here in the country. For instance, if you have a need for a fish census in your pond but haven’t the time to catch and tag all your crappie, then anyone knows you simply light and casually drop an M-80 off your dock and your fish will magically come to the surface and plead “count me!” Soon after they are counted they will regain their bearings, collect their "inards," and return to last year’s Christmas tree (crappie bed).

Fireworks may also be aimed in the general direction of one’s “potty pond.” Potty ponds are bodies of water which hold “effluent.” They make great targets for a hydroponic pyrotechnic displays. Many country people have found such efforts superior ways to deliver “fertilizer” to key portions of acreage in the vicinity of their sweet corn. You simply miss these opportunities if you live in an urban, suburban, or other traffic-signaled environment.

We realize we could continue by offering additional exhibits on the differences between urban and rural fireworks. However, it is obvious that this post is deteriorating rapidly and we don’t want to spoil anyone’s appetite for homemade ice cream (we prefer to make ours with sweetened condensed milk AND heavy whipping cream by the way).

And, it’s time to actually quit writing and go outside and let all the fun commence. I think I’ll be able to do that as soon as I get that pesky rural mail carrier off my roof.


Editor’s Note(s):

1. In case there is any doubt, we are JOKING here. We are strong advocates of fireworks safety and encourage the few of you who are actually reading this to discharge all fireworks safely and under the supervision of an adult! For more information on fireworks safety, please visit the following link:

2. We are also serious about something else that may have appeared to be a joke above. We really do utilize sweetened condensed milk AND heavy whipping cream in the same homemade ice cream recipe. This is very hard on the ice cream freezer’s motor, so beware.

3. No brother, cousin, rural mail carrier, fish or sweet corn was harmed, contemplated to be harmed, or contaminated with organic matter in the writing of this column.

4. We are joking that Silly String is really being considered as an “element.” It is actually being considered as the Eighth Wonder of the Modern World.