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  • Writer's pictureLinda Odhner, with photos by Liz Kufs

Excerpted Inspirations #135

[The Fort family gathers with the rest of the community to watch fireworks on the Fourth of July.}      They settled themselves to wait, hearing and feeling about them the rustlings and stirrings of the unseen crowd.  A faint breeze came in from the river, flitted about, stepping capriciously on its light feet from one group to another, lifting locks of hair with invisible fingers.      From the cove below came spurts of boys' laughter.      With a majestic rush, up soared a rocket, tracing toward the stars a curve of fiery speed.       "Ah-ah-ah!" breathed the unseen, earth-bound crowd.       The rocket put all its soul into that upward flight toward infinity.  But it was not enough.  The poor finite thing could not reach even the fringes of the stars.  It hung an instant in the blackness, and then with a soft explosion that was like a long-drawn breath, made its failure beautiful in a bouquet of many-colored sparks.       "Ah-ah-ah!" breathed the invisible crowd.  A child's startled voice shouted out, "Oh, p'itty! p'itty!"      "That's a child seeing it for the first time," said Mr. Fort.  He added in a musing tone, "I can remember very well when I saw it for the first time, sixty years ago.  Can you remember your first time, Adrian?"      "Never'll forget it," answered Adrian.       "They're lovely here," came Priscilla's voice through the darkness with a surprised accent.  "I never much liked fireworks before.  You're always too near.  You hear people scolding about the fuses being wet, and how somebody 's not holding the Roman candles right."            "Sh-sh-sh!"  Up sped another rocket, its tense flight cleanly drawn, up and up -- all those human faces lifted toward the stars to follow its aspiration.  The bright curve halted in mid-air, recognized its defeat, bent its head in resignation, and and sighed out its life in a golden rain.       "The baby's watching it," announced Aunt Tryntje, who had claimed the privilege of holding little Priscilla.  "She really does take it in, I'm sure.  She lifted her face to follow it and put out her little arms."      "I wonder," thought Matey to herself with a start, a pang, at the idea that her baby might be beginning a life of her own, "I wonder if this will be one of the 'really' remembered things for her."  And with that thought she saw it all differently, with a new richness and depth.  She saw it as it might look to little Priscilla years from now, she saw the golden curve of beauty which had just died before her eyes, shedding an immortal brightness along the unknown future toward which the baby's feet were tending.  Tears came to Matey's eyes.  She felt herself humbled and exalted.  It was the first step she had taken forward from physical maternity.  Dorothy Canfield, The Deepening Stream (1930), pp. 172-173

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