Friday 17 August 2012

The Last Explosion

I was doing the dishes tonight listening to the far off Boom…boom… boom of fireworks. Every year at this time we in Calgary host the Global Fest which is a fireworks competition that takes place over five nights and every night the fireworks come from a different country. I don’t know what the winners get, other than perhaps a little prestige and I would hope some money for their efforts.

It is a truly awesome show and I guess they are judges on how the fireworks fit the theme and blend with the music they have chosen. It is a pretty ephemeral art form. Thousands of people go every year and many don’t miss a show. There are kiosks selling pretty much anything you might want and quite a bit that nobody in their right minds would want. We have gone many years, but are going to give it a miss this year I think.

When I was listening to the soft thumping earlier tonight I wondered what it must have been like the first time people saw fireworks. I imagine that the first people to see fireworks were actually soldiers and those explosions were meant to kill and maim them. I’m talking about the first people that watched them for entertainment. What a rush that must have been. We have seen them all of our lives and still “ooohhh and aaahhh” like retarded pigeons with a beak full of fermented berries. I don’t remember the first time I saw a display, but I am sure I was a baby and dragged along sleeping in a wagon.

I did look forward to the fireworks they would have at the school on July 1st every year. Crowds of people gathered around and it was one of the few times we would see our friends with their parents in tow. We would stand there while our parents introduced themselves and talked about what a nice boy so and so was and he is never a problem. Then so and so’s parents would express shock at this and they would all laugh at a joke the kids didn’t get. We wandered off (not too far) and found the perfect place to watch from.  Well, perfect until someone with a big head or huge body stood in front of us.

The display would be a pale imitation of modern day extravaganzas, but to my kid eyes there was nothing better. We had the whiz bangs, the pin wheels, the multi coloured blossoms, the really loud ones that would shoot up and explode in a flash of white light and they always seemed to finish with the waterfall. It was a cascading stream of sparks that went on forever. Well, to me they went on forever, and truthfully I am not sure if they ended with them, but I loved them just the same.

I learned at those fireworks that you should never bring a dog unless you liked to chase your dog. I learned that you can never really describe them to a person that wasn’t there. I learned that I just love the smell of fireworks smoke. I learned that it doesn’t really take too much to bring a community together, just some explosive powder and a match. I learned that for the most part, kids have more fun at things like this than adults, because adults are remembering what it was like to be a kid and kids are kids. I learned that even though you can take pictures of fireworks, you can’t capture them, really. I learned that there is nothing as quiet as the seconds after the last explosion.

The sound from the venue has faded away, the house is quiet and I can still see the waterfall, the pin wheels, the blossoms, wiz bangs and I can smell the smoke from that July 1st fifty years ago.

1 comment:

  1. I've never understood why people bring their dogs to these large public events. All the dog sees are strangers legs and spends most of the time dodging feet so as not to be kicked. Their is always some bonehead with no shirt on that has to bring his "junkyard dog" so it can start a fight with some unsuspecting dog that didn't want to be there in the first place. Leave your dog home he'll be happier! B