It was a long, hot day filled with furniture assembly and nagging ideological frustrations. By evening I was tired, pensive, and uncomfortable. After dinner we cleaned the kitchen and then drove “down town.” (A term with a very different meaning in Williamsburg rather than Washington.) Parking the car we joined throngs of other folding-chair-and-cooler-toting citizens wending their way towards an open field.
As the sun went down, a breeze came up, and the weight of heat and humidity lifted. My son climbed a tree, and we sat amidst the crowds as the smell of magnolias and other summer flowers lapped about us. The first boom of the fireworks startled him from his perch and he came to sit next to me. The fire danced above us, close enough to feel the concussion from the explosions. Beside me, my little boy kept up a stream of commentary and exclamations until exhaustion finally got the better of exhilaration. He climbed from his chair to my lap, where he quietly let the spectacle wash over him.
I sat looking up at the lights. The smell of the magnolias mingled with the perfume of tired little boy in my nostrils. My wife reached over and rested her hand on the back of my neck for a brief moment. In that instant the tremendous, overpowering, sweetness of life filled my soul, and I silently thanked God for fireworks.