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  • Fireworks are legal in Maine now. For years Jimmy made the run down to North Carolina and brought back a truckload. Technically the outer islands belong to Towns and Legislative Districts and Counties but the reality is that the islands are each a world unto themselves.

    Some people liked to worry that the Coast Guard or the Sherriff or the Warden or even the Park Service personnel would show up when Jimmy set of his display.

    Others drew their curtains and swore he’d burn the island down.

    If he don’t show a care he’ll burn the island down dry as it is, Lyle told me every year.

    I never could imagine anyone mistaking the multi-colored explosions for the smoky red glare of a distress flare. The one time a misguided rocket set fire to a patch of brush there were twenty guys, three vehicles and 18 old hand-pump backpack style fire extinguishers on the scene. All panting over a blaze smaller than a campfire.

    But this year fireworks are legal in Maine. Little fireworks stores have sprouted up along highways and back roads. The guys talk knowledgeably about fused combinations and shells and mortar tubes. Jimmy’s arcane skills and knowledge are now just common as dirt.

    The one display spawned like a successful TV series into a spin-offs as households and clans set off rockets and shells and fountains of fire in their backyards.

    Old Lyle’s been dead for almost a decade. I can hear him though. The grass is green Benjy but the woods are some dry. They’ll burn the island down.

    We sat on the front porch and watched the neighbors a ways down the hill shoot off salvo after salvo up the hill towards us. The rockets burst just before the thin fringe of trees along the Town Road.

    We cheered the friendly fire and the long echoes boomed off the islands around the bay.

    I thought how the Maine Governor talked up the legalization of fireworks as an economic stimulation and how odd and ironic and such a metaphor for our times it is to have all that cash go up in a bang and nothing to show for it but smoke and sparkle.

    I thought how dry the woods are and one of these days they’ll burn the island down.

    I remembered when it was only sparklers that were legal and the summer back when Carly was two. She in my arms holding tight, overflowing full of excitement and a wondrous glow in her eyes at the play of light in the night. And I wondered how much is enough.
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