Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Certain fireworks are now legal in Maine.  The Legislature passed a law last year to allow the sale of fireworks in the state.  It did include in the law an option for communities to opt out and continue their ban on the sale and use.  That law went into effect New Year's Day.

At the time I thought to myself, "It's about time," remembering my very young youth when we could set off some low level firecrackers and other types of celebratory devices.  I remember when we switched to allowing only those most dangerous Sparklers.  I thought at the time and continued to think through the years they were more dangerous than the Chinese firecrackers.  After all, the sparklers did burn at an outrageous temperature and could do some serious damage to little fingers and faces that touched the burning end.

I even cheated one time as we were returning from a vacation in Florida.  My wife and I had our two pre-teen children with us.  I really don't remember in which state we stopped after being enticed by those signs offering to sell fireworks to us.  We bought some and brought them home.  We weren't injured during our celebration.

So when Maine once again decided to allow their sale and use, I thought how foolish many communities were that outlawed them.  Many, perhaps most, of those cities and towns are neighbors of Scarborough.  Our town government did not ban them.  Of course no one in Maine sells them yet, but now that they're legal, they're easily available in nearby New Hampshire and the Maine police won't be stationed outside their stores to radio license plates to cohorts at the border.

Now I'm not so sure I wouldn't urge the Town Fathers to rethink their decision.  We were "entertained" the other night.  Shortly after suppertime, we were sitting quietly in front of our TV when three loud pops followed by two more rattled through the neighborhood.  They sounded like pistol shots.  Gator Golden, who had never heard them before, became very nervous, and that just might be an understatement.

Gator Wife and I discussed calling the police to report the gunshots but we really didn't know from where they came.  Then a crescendo of various pitches swept over us.  Fireworks.  We chuckled a little, and then, at our tender ages in the 70s, began to get slightly irritated at the continuing pop, pop, pop.  Some were obviously much bigger than others and we found them to be disrupting our peace.

We never did learn exactly from where the popping came, only a direction.  To the best of our knowledge no damage resulted and I didn't hear any calls for the medics on our police monitor.  I'm only guessing here, but it was probably just some young folk down the road a piece being young folk.  It did bring back the fun we had so many, many years before.

About 15 or 20 minutes after it began, it ended just as all good fireworks displays end, with someone lighting a whole block of firecrackers just as I did way back in the 1940s.  But those several minutes gave me a new insight into how the "old people" must have felt then when they had to listen to our fun.

Don't get me wrong here.  The people who had their private fireworks show the other night certainly didn't seem to be trying to cause a disturbance.  Considering the lack of police activity, it's pretty clear they were just a bunch of folks out for some good, clean fun.  Depending on the cost and how much fun they had, I'd be surprised if we didn't get another burst of fun.  Possibly several.  I might even wish I knew where the party was and try to join it.  Naw.  I'd feel just a wee bit out of place.

But I don't like having the pup scared.  She's eight years old and has lived a sheltered life.  Things like those fireworks are distressful to her.  Probably, if I were honest with myself, my age doesn't react too well, either.

I'm may be thinking now that perhaps my town should have joined the others around here and banned the fireworks.  They are fun, noisy fun, for the people using them and when they are not out for destruction or harrassment like the nearby group was not, then they can provide enjoyment for the users.  But now I realize that what I thought was or would be fun in my youth and early adulthood just might not have been as enjoyable to the neighbors not connected to the display.  I guess it's safe to say our perspectives change with the years.

Would that put me now in favor of banning fireworks once again?  I'll have to wait until this summer to see what happens when people spend more evening hours outside.  Until then, the pup and I will just have to learn to adjust.


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