When we arrived at the city park there were already more than 200 people there lounging on blankets, sitting in lawn chairs, milling about. In the middle of the park was a small pond, and the 4th of July organizers had partitioned off the dock, setting up the fireworks launchers at the end of it and running the control wires to a small table on the pond bank. As more and more viewers arrived, the edge of the pond continued to fill in until there was no more shore unoccupied.

As dusk darkened into evening, a test firework sped into the night, then the show began in earnest. Unseen before in the low light, the Canada geese underneath the dock emerged, swimming frantically for the shore, then pulling up short as they realized the shore was filled with people. Like ping pong balls, they immediately shifted in the opposite direction, swimming faster this time, only to find that shore full as well. No safe harbor anywhere—unable to fly for the constant explosions ahead, and unable to return to the dock where the muffled mortars popped every ten seconds or more—they ended up huddling together in the middle of the pond.

It would have been funny, except you knew that the geese had no understanding of what was happening, and never would.