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Fireworks insanity – again

Imagine you just moved here from San Francisco, and bought a very nice house for only $450,000. You can’t believe your luck. You sold your California house for a million, so it was no problem when some local sucker wanted to buy that same house here for $375,000.

You showed him. You made one of those newfangled real estate offers that automatically adds $10,000 to your offer until the locals drop out. It was tougher dealing with the competing Californians, but eventually, you prevailed. Since buying the house, you have been remodeling and improving its appearance. The high cost of building materials doesn’t slow you down.

But there’s this Black Fire burning closer and closer. It’s very dry and windy. The wind is supposed to be over by June, but it isn’t. The Forest Service and town and county officials say fire danger is still extremely high. Is your new home safe?

And now you hear these stories about blowout fireworks displays for the Fourth of July. Fireworks? During a drought with high winds? Are these people crazy?

You have a neighbor a few houses away, with a place not nearly as nice as yours. You hesitated buying in the neighborhood, but the Realtor said you couldn’t be too picky about neighbors in New Mexico. Sometimes McMansions are next to junk.

OK. You don’t want to be a snob. You would never have met someone like this neighbor in San Francisco, but you’re starting to like him. He tells you his family likes to spend a thousand dollars on fireworks, and blow it all up in one night. A thousand? Can he afford that?

(Our extreme fireworks culture is not my favorite part of Silver City, but it was here before I came, and will continue after I pass. I prefer the natural monsoon fireworks, but I’m apparently in the minority.) Well, fireworks won’t be a problem, because the town will surely not permit them in these conditions.

Oh, wait. The town can’t ban fireworks, because the state won’t let them? What? Is the whole state crazy? Why would legislators from areas where there’s little fire danger get a say in safety conditions for forested mountains?

No. That’s supposed to be Texas, not New Mexico. Texas is where state officials complain about distant federal interference, but then interfere in close, local government. Why copy them?

Well, it turns out legislators are trying to protect fireworks vendors. Vendors have to buy inventory way in advance, and it’s hard to plan your business if your market changes based on unpredictable weather. But why would legislators care more about fireworks vendors than about our homes?

(After the Quail Ridge Fire in 2011, I wrote letters to legislators complaining about this law. A legislator from the East Side explained this to me in a very snip py note. To quote a favorite columnist, Dave Barry, I am not making this up.)

Your only hope is that the monsoons will come early. And indeed, there have been dark clouds, and a few sprinkles in the afternoons. But old-timers say that monsoon clouds can last for weeks before they burst open. Which will come first? The lightning fires, or the rains to extinguish them? For now, you see the Fourth of July approaching like an angel of doom. Was it a mistake to move to an area where people look to Mexican fireworks insanity as a model?

You’re having a hard time getting into the spirit. People who enjoy an orgy of fire and light in this weather should be treated like rabid dogs. But you’re already starting to hear distant booms in the evening. And then there’s the story about school officials who thought fireworks would be a great way to celebrate high school graduation.

Blame the founders. Why couldn’t they have had the foresight to sign the Declaration of Independence on Aug. 4? Didn’t they know that monsoons are supposed to start in early July?

(If you’re not amused by a column about the potential destruction of our town, perhaps you should speak to Sen. Siah Correa Hemphill about changing that law. Or make it an issue in the election between Luis Terrazas and Rudy Martinez.) Well, if you can’t beat them, join them. If your low-rent neighbors can spend a thousand on fireworks during a drought, you can spend twice that, and give everybody a show. You’ve only been paying outrageous home insurance rates for a few months, so if worse comes to worst, the settlement will be a big win.

What a ride! You’ve moved to a place where everybody’s crazy, and now you’re one of them.

(Hopefully by Wednesday, when this column is published, everything written here will be irrelevant.)

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Southwest Word Fiesta™ or its steering committee.

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Bruce McKinney

Bruce McKinney is a Silver City business owner, close observer of local government and occasional troublemaker. In his column, which appears every other Wednesday, he tries to address big questions from a local perspective. Send comments and ideas to
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