There's Supposed To Be An Earth-Shattering Ka-Boom!
Peter B. Steiger
07/04/06
Now in gaudyHTML with links to photos!

For some reason the people in this country celebrate Canada Day three days late. Always the conformists, we participate in this strange "Fourth Of July" celebration by charring animal flesh into its various molecular components and attempting to cause grass fires with showers of brightly colored sparks.

This year presented a few more challenges than previous attempts. The first challenge was to get the law prohibiting brightly colored sparks repealed. Our corner of the universe was blessed with a drought the past seven years, so "Holiday with fireworks" and "Burn ban" are two phrases that belong together - every summer the wizards who decide our fates in local government decree that the summer should be spent with no fireworks, no trash fires, no barbecues, and we're not too sure about the pilot light on your gas stove. But the two days before Independence Day were met with record-breaking floods (which, in Wyoming, means more than 1/16th of an inch of rain) so my industrious wife got busy phoning all the county commissioners at home and threatening them with an angry letter to the editor if they did not repeal the burn ban this year.

Those of you who know my wife personally will not be surprised to learn that the county commissioners met immediately and repealed that ban, so we were free to risk hearing loss, blindness, and severed fingers in our quest to celebrate... whatever.

The next challenge was a difficulty that has only come up in recent years when we started having friends. We needed to plan the invitations carefully to avoid having friends who can't stand each other present at the same time. In the past this was not a problem because we didn't have any friends, so none of the people we invited ever showed up anyway.

Finally we were all set: We had toys we could explode, friends who wouldn't explode, and food that was reaching critical mass. We also had rain, but after all it took to get this far we weren't about to let a little flash flood ruin our plans. We wrapped kids, dog, and food in plastic and headed out west where we have 8 acres of dry pasture waiting for the right spark.

That chance never came. At some point in the pre-fireworks chatting, my wife noticed that our dog had heard one too many firecrackers going off and disappeared. Never mind she had her whole pack right there to protect her or the fact that the familiar territory of our car and house were within cowering range. No, she had to run off into another dimension instead. Sylvia took off after the dog while I tried to entertain the guests until it was dark enough to blow stuff up.

In retrospect, it was probably a bad idea to mention my son's golf clubs to our friends the Nicklaus family and their son Jack. He and Daniel went down the hill to Daniel's one-hole golf course to whack a few balls around. I happened to be on the top of the hill calling for the dog, which is why I was able to hear this tremendous CRACK! followed by my son screaming louder than he has screamed since the time I tripped over a model of a ship he had spent two weeks building. From what I gathered later, he was paying a bit more attention than strictly necessary to the ball when there was a club flying past his head.

I'm in pretty good shape for a guy in his 40s who doesn't get more than three steps exercise a week and eats enough to feed the population of Bismarck, North Dakota at every meal. So it took me only ten minutes to run the 40 yards down the hill to where I found Daniel lying on his back, still screaming, with a fountain of blood spurting out of his head and a flock of twittering birds and stars circling him.

Naturally the dog was gone so I couldn't send her to fetch help. And my wife, the nurse, was looking for the dog so I couldn't call her for help. All I could think of was to get ice quickly, and instead of sending little Jack Nicklaus for the ice I pushed past him and ran for it myself, uphill and around the other side of the house. A week later I made it to where the rest of the gang was sitting around the food and I dove into the ice chest, gasping something about blood and golf and by the way were we all out of hot dogs because it had been several minutes since my last meal.

Well, my son and my wife, the biggest fireworks fanatics in the family, never got to shoot off their arsenal. She decided the cut from the golf club was too big to treat herself, and ran Daniel off to the emergency room while my friends helped me look for the dog one last time before we all had to give up and go back to town.

Fortunately this story has a happy ending or I wouldn't be writing it just yet. Daniel made it home ahead of us with nary a stitch on his head (but a few cool staples); apart from the giant gauze turban he's sporting you wouldn't know anything unusual had happened to him. There was also a message from the sheriff's deputy who lives a few blocks from our land out in the country, saying he had our dog safe and sound at his house. In fact he's close enough that she could probably hear me calling and whistling for her, so I can just picture her clawing at the door of the deputy's house trying to get out.

As for me, I'm about ready for dessert. Where did we put those cookies in the rush to pack up and leave?