There are so many reasons I am ready for summer to be here in Montana … The camping trips, the barbecues, hiking, the float trips on the river, and the list goes on. All of these things have been summer staples my whole life.
But perhaps the thing I’m looking most forward to, besides the sunshine, is the smoky haze that settles over the valley, the smell of smoke bombs and the sounds of firecrackers.
That’s right: Be jealous. Fireworks are legal here. Bring on the Fourth of July.
I have a lot of fond childhood holiday memories, but topping the list every year was our Independence Day shenanigans. This July holiday was a convenient excuse for a lot of our cousins and other extended relations to make the trip here to Montana for some quality family time. And the chance to start fires and blow stuff up.
As a member of the “older cousins,” I can remember tormenting our younger counterparts with well-timed smoke bombs, firecrackers, and poppers. We’d chase each other around with sparklers and write our names with the smoke. The walk outside of my grandparents’ house still harbors the burn marks from year after year of black snakes, and I’m sure there are a few firecracker pieces and maybe even an unlit smoke bomb or two to be found under their back deck. We once wasted a couple full boxes of matches because they were left too close to the fountain of explosions, and one of my cousins still has a scar on one of his feet from stepping on a lit fuse. One of my aunts still doesn’t allow any of us to light fireworks in her yard anymore, due to a combination of sparkler bombs and Roman candles gone wrong.
The Fourth was also great because there was no pressure. No presents to be exchanged, no big fancy meals to partake in, no winter roads to navigate and no rules or limits on what we could do. It was just a carefree time to hang out and enjoy a day in the life.
As my sister and I got older, our Fourth traditions changed. I suppose that’s natural for all family traditions: They evolve. The first few summers away from Montana included drum corps shows. I missed the carefree days, but there’s something to be said for performing on the Fourth of July in a field show of that caliber, too. Then I moved to Virginia, and spent several Julys in Washington D.C. Again, nothing can really compare to spending Independence Day in our nation’s capital.
I’m thankful for all my Fourth experiences, but happy to be back in Montana now. Bring on the fireworks!