... a few bangs, actually, and some whistles, plenty of sparks - and a grassfire on both sides of Highway 349, just north of Midland.
It's just after midnight, and we're returning home to the Tall City from dinner and a concert in Lubbock, when the sky over the road in front of us lights up with fireworks, one after another. Except the last couple went sideways - not surprising, considering how windy it was - and plowed into the way-too-dry grass on both sides of the road.
If all you've ever seen are photos and videos of the phenomenon, it's hard to get a real appreciation for just how fast a grassfire can spread. I've covered plenty of them, over the years, and it still surprises me. Anyway, we pull over, and me and one of our guests gets out and starts stamping out parts of the fire, while My Favorite Landman calls the fire department ... something the people with the fireworks never got around to doing.
A blanket helps the process of putting out the worst of the flames ... but there are still hot spots here and there, and even as we watch some spark-up again with the encouragement of an abundance of dry grass all around, and an over-abundance of stiff, near-constant winds.
It isn't long before we see the lights of a fire truck approaching from the south. And since I'm suddenly the only one there at the scene, I direct them to the hot spots. The Midland FD quickly has the situation in hand, and I can't say enough about those people. But, I will say this - there are things that we, as private citizens, can do to reduce the threat of fire, and to assist the efforts of our firefighters ... and one way would be a decision to NOT light-up little packets of explosive powder and shoot them or toss them God-knows-where ... couldn't we all, this year, forgo a few seconds of 'snap-crackle-pop' in order to save firefighters from spending additional hours on the fire line?
Oh, and if you run into a couple of guys who were out on Highway 349 after midnight; 20s, I guess; driving a white, unmarked work truck (you know the kind ... a little larger and heavier-duty than a pickup, with tool boxes on both sides of the bed) with license plate #92T-F4C (I think) ... be sure to thank them for their contribution to all this. They suddenly, very quickly got in their truck and took off, heading north, when the fire truck approached from the south... so I didn't have a chance to thank them myself.