Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Burning Bush

'Twas the Fourth of July, six or seven years ago. As in previous years, we were the crazy house where everyone came for dinner and a fireworks show — and what a show it was! Since our town is one of those last bastions of fireworks insanity (where you can buy everything short of firecrackers and M-80s), we always went a little over the top. We'd spend a couple hundred dollars, friends would bring fireworks, too. Before you know it, we had 30 people in the yard and enough fireworks for 90+ minutes.

On this particular year, there was a bit of a breeze. Felt great, since it was hot out, but not good for fireworks that blast 50' into the sky. About an hour into the show, our mistress of the matches, Shannon, lit off something that was supposed to send a dozen flaming balls high into the July 4th sky, each one breaking into a different colored firework. If only.

Instead, the damn thing tipped over the instant it was fully lit. The first ball shot out over the head of the kids in the lawn. The force of the shot made the entire thing spin. It became a crazy Russian roulette of fiery balls. The second ball shot down the center of the street, harmless. I was inside, getting a blanket when I heard all the commotion. "Duck!" "Stay down!" "Run!" What on earth was going on.

As I came out the back door and neared the gate onto the driveway, a flaming ball when whizzing past my head, literally inches away. I ducked ... took a look around and saw that everyone else had scrambled.

Once the firework stopped its crazy dance, we noticed that the neighbors boxwood hedge was on fire. No problem, we had the hose ready to go and a bucket of water. Unfortunately, the hedge was dry. Very, very dry.

So in a matter of seconds, an entire section of the hedge was in flames. The hose wouldn't reach, naturally. As Lisa and a few others ran to use the neighbors hose, Andy and I ran into our backyard ... grabbed big plastic toy tubs ... and dipped them into our kiddie pool. We then ran across the street and tossed the water onto the shrubs. Someone in the house had called 911.

By the time the firetruck arrived a few minutes later, we had managed to put out the flames. Picture a 20-year-old boxwood hedge with a 5' section in the middle charred and smoking, no longer green. 

The capper to the evening? As Lisa was explaining what had happened to the fireman, she accidentally sprayed him with the hose in her hand. His buddies howled ... checked the bush ... told us we had done a great job ... and drove away.

No one said a word. We boxed up the remaining fireworks and gave them to a friend. We swept the street. Everyone packed up their stuff. And the neighbor — who was very nice — told us she was so happy no one was hurt. 

Yes, we bought and planted new boxwoods and purchased a new mailbox, too (the other one had melted in the fire). But that was the last time we ever did fireworks at our house. As I lay in bed this time of year, listening to the pops and bangs and booms in the distance, I wonder if somewhere out there, there may be another burning bush. Happy July 4th, everyone! Make it a safe one!