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Full Moon & Fireworks

I once was a boat owner. Nowadays I’m a passenger on other people’s boats, and occasionally crew. I’d like to say I like it this way, not having the expense of maintaining a boat and such talk, but once it’s in your blood you never get over not having one, no matter how often you hop on someone else’s. That doesn’t make the experience any less delightful when you’re blessed with the opportunity. It’s more a call from the life that got away.

Big Island Pond, located in Southern New Hampshire, is bordered by three towns. The namesake big island, called Governor’s Island, is mostly conservation land, making the lake feel like a time warp back to another era. There is a lot of history on this small lake, beginning with the famous Native American warrior Escumbuit, one of the leaders of the Abenaki. For the French, he was considered a hero, and knighted by Louis XIV of France in 1706. For the English settlers, he was a holy terror, responsible for several local raids during King William’s War and Queen Anne’s War. He lived on a small island now named after him; Escumbuit Island. Another famous character, Alan Shepard, the first American in space, also once lived on Escumbuit Island. Surely, there are whispers from history on quiet nights on this lake.

Today, there’s little doubt who won the long game. The perimeter of the lake is lined with homes, and every one of those homeowners tries to be on the lake for the 4th of July fireworks. The threat of rain postponed the fireworks this night, making the lake quieter than it otherwise would have been. It turned out to be the wrong decision for the fireworks organizers, as the rains drifted away and the skies cleared enough to offer a full moon spectacle for those who ventured onto the lake anyway. That full moon rose over the dark shoreline, illuminating the calm lake with wonder.

Cruising a populated American lake on the weekend of our national holiday is usually a recipe for boisterous fun and a bouncy ride. Boaters jockey for position to watch the fireworks, various patriotic-themed soundtracks and “homeowner special” fireworks blend together into a chaos of sound. Individual boats are also lit up in various colorful displays. I suspect most of the people on those boats are also lit up. Such is Independence Day in America. Americans don’t take nearly enough time off, but when we try to make up for lost time.

With the fireworks postponed, it fell to some adventurous souls to make their own display. Three characters, one in nothing but a red, white and blue bathing suit, floated a swimming platform out into the middle of the lake stacked with professional-grade fireworks. They spent the next half an hour lighting off ridiculously large fireworks precariously close to their future well-being. As with boats, other people’s fireworks cost a lot less but offer the same benefit. We had a front row seat for our own fireworks display, making for a magical evening with friends. Sometimes things just seem to come together at just the right time. A timeless lake, full of history and magic, set the stage once again.

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