Green Apples and Ladybugs

June 28, 2023 daryl bauer

The fourth of July, or more appropriately, Independence Day, has always been one of our family’s favorite holidays.  As a matter of fact, for many of us, I would go so far as to say it is our most favorite holiday.  I suppose there are a lot of reasons for that, summer weather and long days, food, boating, parades, water fights, float trips, music, demolition derbies, and a whole lot more.  I am pretty sure most of all it is just because we do it all together.

Oh yes, there are a ton of family activities, but you can be sure some of us will sneak away for some time on the water too.  Some times the time spent sneaking away to do a little fishing will be in the middle of a hot, early July day–not the best time to fish.  Nevertheless, I have always said the best time to fish is whenever you have time, and whenever you fish, you never know what you might catch, even during the middle of the day, right next to a busy boat ramp.


Even better are the times when we get to sneak away at a better time, to quieter places.

Or maybe just down to the backyard pond to capture THE elusive Koi.


A feat which I accomplished on last year’s “fourth”!

Now, I am some two hundred words into this blog post and have avoided mentioning one of the most obvious activities we enjoy on Independence Day.  Being patriotic Americans we have taken to heart the words of ole John Adams.  Over two hundred years ago, John said this day should be celebrated by succeeding generations (that would be us).  It should be “commemorated by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty . . . with pomp and parade, shews, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other.”

You better believe we try to practice that, especially the guns, bonfires, and illuminations part.  Let’s just say we burn some gun powder on “the fourth”.  After all, our founding fathers said we should!

We detonate our fair share of fireworks, day and night.  In addition, we usually break out the firearms and do some target shooting.  Lady fingers, snaps, smoke balls, parachutes, artillery shells, rockets, shotguns, handguns, long rifles, modern and muzzleloader we fire them all!  There might even be a cannon or two thrown in.

Maybe that says something about the pyromania running in our blood?

So far we all have all our digits, and the singed hair grows back from year to year.  We live by the motto that it ain’t the fourth until someone (everyone?) gets burned.

You can imagine that there have been a few incidents over the years that have taken on legendary status.  Like the time we made apple sauce.

After setting off the first 503,464 firecrackers, a person looks for more creative ways to blast some Black Cats.  My cousin Robin and I used to drop firecrackers down the sewer grate in front of their house and laugh at the echoing boom that resulted.  We joked that every time one of those went off we blew the lid off of someone’s toilet.

Of course we have always lighted fireworks under the watchful eye of proper adult supervision.  Problem has always been the adults are nothing more than the biggest kids.

Which brings me back to the applesauce affair. . . .

It was years ago, back when we were all younger.  As I said the biggest kids, my Dad and Uncle were practicing pyrotechnics along with the rest of us.  You have probably all used a section of pipe to launch bottle rockets.  We had one handy, the pipe that is.  Someone had the big idea that with proper timing and fast hands we could use a firecracker in the pipe to launch a little green apple.  The firing of this cannon was going to require a gun crew rivaling that of a civil war battery.  Volunteers were selected.  Jobs were assigned and rehearsed.  An appropriate caliber little green apple was selected.  My Uncle Ivan would be the commander of the gun crew and place the apple in the pipe after the charge had been lit and dropped.

The fuse was ignited, the firecracker set in the pipe.  All that remained was for the apple to be loaded. . . .

You know what happened.  It was a short fuse, or it burned fast, or maybe our hands were slow.  Regardless, Uncle Ivan was still holding the apple on the end of the howitzer when the two grains of powder went off.

Applesauce, everywhere.  Or at least as much applesauce as could result from blowing up a little green apple.  As I remember, the shrapnel covered us all (at least we smelled like green apple and gun powder).  Uncle Ivan took the worst of it, his shirt covered with applesauce, little bits dripped from his glasses.

We laughed.  At the time, it seemed like one of the funniest things we had ever done on the fourth.

Still does.

Then there was the ladybug.

Now, my Aunt Jeanene is more mature than most of us, although she does like to laugh.  No, she usually is not in the middle of setting off the fireworks, but she does like to pull up a lawn chair for the evening display.  The night fireworks usually go off without incident, except for maybe a burn or two from a sparkler (remember our motto).  However, I will confess that a few sparks thrown in the direction of the audience does liven up the show.

We were in the middle of the nighttime display of Roman candles, fountains, rockets and artillery shells.  Someone, who shall remain nameless, although he does have the same initials as me, had these cute little ladybugs to display.  The first of them was placed on a hard surface as the instructions said, the fuse was lit, and the proper safe distance was achieved.  Or, at least we thought we were safe.  Then, and whoever named the thing “ladybug” had a perverse sense of humor, and probably a great marketing mind.  Then, the lady bug ignited and chaos ensued.

You see once the ladybug caught it started spinning and throwing sparks.  Then it flew off in a totally random direction.  You were at a safe distance as long as it flew away from you, but who knew which direction that might be????  In this case, the bug headed directly for the assembled spectators including my Aunt Jeanene!  Screams ensued and lawn chairs flew.  It was a group panic as everyone fled.  My Aunt was a little slow exiting her lawn chair and took a direct hit.  At least it was a hit direct enough to burn little holes in her brand new, just-bought-for-the-fourth, blouse.

Aunt Jeanene’s blouse was the only casualty of that incident.  It belongs in our 4th of July museum.

Now you know why when someone says “look at the ladybug” around our family, no one comes to see the cute little insect on your finger.

No, we all dive for cover.


The post Green Apples and Ladybugs appeared first on Nebraskaland Magazine.

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