happy July first

Happy Canada Day.  In my day it was called Dominion Day. My brother called it Firecracker Day.  We had a great-uncle, my grandmother's brother, who lived in White Bear, Minnesota, and we seem to have visited him quite often (from Winnipeg), often enough to keep my brother supplied with firecrackers every summer, or so it seemed to me. I guess I was about four or five when the mayhem began.  Uncle Bill was sheriff or something and as I vaguely understood it, he gathered up all the firecrackers in the town (I think the word now is confiscated), and then celebrated the Fourth with a bang-up party.  He used to give leftovers to my brother.  I guess Customs didn't bother much about it then, at least, no one ever accused my brother or my father of being terrorists.  So then for the rest of the summer in Gimli, where we went for our summer holidays, my brother played with fire. There was a word for the slow-burning string he used to light his squibs, can't remember it. 

Well, I was too little for firecrackers.  I got to light a Burning Schoolhouse - not sure I even knew what a schoolhouse was.  Do they still have them? The burning kind, I mean.  I got to look from afar at a Roman Candle. And I was given a supervised sparkler.  Nowadays they put little sparklers on birthday cakes instead of candles.  That's still my speed though I worry about the frosting.  I don't remember rockets at all. I think my father banned them. He was a doctor and at least once every summer he had to treat a case of rocket burn, especially around the eyes. So, no rockets for his family.  Also no skiing, but that was a winter embargo. My brother blew up anthills.

In one of my unpublished novels I describe the destruction of an anthill.  Some things you never forget.