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One of my favorite childhood memories is of sitting outside on a warm summer evening at my grandmother’s house, listening to the adults talk among themselves, while the intoxicating scent of “punk” sticks hung in the air. The thin smoky sticks did a terrific job of keeping away the mosquitoes and biting flies that hovered around the large weeping willow in the yard. They burned so slowly that I remember, when I was a bit older, being able to hold the end of one in my teeth, copying the adults.

I hadn’t seen any in a long time, when we found some at the firework mega store I posted about around the 4th. Literally not “your grandmother’s punk”, they were at least three times the size of the spindly ones I remembered.

We bought a package, along with our fireworks, and it turns out that the two are meant to go hand in hand. They’re intended to light the fuses of fireworks, from a safe distance and without an open flame. Made of bamboo coated with sawdust, punk is also close relative (or the grandfather of?) of incense. I guess that makes my grandmother way cooler than the rest of us. Who knew?

At the beach this past week, I broke out my chunky punk and enjoyed a “fatty” (and bug-free evening) on the deck of the condo. The only thing missing was the weeping willow from my childhood……… and maybe a Bob Marley poster?