Fireworks Opening Act: Mother Nature

The plan sounded good, in principle. Late nap, up for supper, head to the beach. Cameron could play in the sand while the sun set, then the warning fireworks would keep him entertained until the show began. Have you ever noticed that when you have a plan like that, one where everything depends on a three and a half year old being happy, the universe messes with you?

This time it was Mother Nature.

To get you up to speed, I’m talking about going to the Celebration of Light, Vancouver’s fireworks competition. It’s the biggest offshore fireworks competition in the world, and it’s the one where the participating countries spend the most money. Money equals (often) great displays – the chemicals and minerals used to produce the brilliant colours cost a lot. It used to be called the Symphony of Fire, as the fireworks are set to music, blasted over loudspeakers. Just about any beach, rooftop, balcony, or patio that has a view of the barge in the bay has good viewing, but the best place to be in my opinion is right in front of it, right at the beaches downtown. You can feel the thud in your chest as the big charges go up high.

The rumblings outside were the first indication that my plan was about to go awry. Then the rain started. Oh well, it’s sure to stop, let’s go anyway!  The weather report says thunder showers – showers means short, yes? This was after Cameron had difficulties napping and I discovered that lemon slices in a slow cooker for eight hours is not a good idea. So we headed out under Carly’s enormous umbrella, and stopped to pick up something for supper. We would eat at the beach. Surely it would stop raining by then. Surely the thunderstorm was heading up the valley, not towards us.

IMG_2168We got to the beach, fairly crowded, and staked out our claim. Then the three of us huddled under the umbrella as the storm reached north-westward. Yep, that’s the picture. Yes, Cameron’s expression does tell it all. Around us drunk and stoned and soaked people danced in the rain, or stood around smoking (I don’t remember it being that bad in previous years, but this year it was very overt), cheering with every flash of approaching lightning. Slowly, the sun set, and the bay was filled with a breathtaking golden orange glow while forks illuminated the cloud-darkened sky behind us and north of us.

The sky got darker, and gradually the frequency of flashes over the bay increased. Zigzags streaked across the sky, and forks descended to the mountains. At one point the night lit up with a network of brilliant blue-white lines. Mother nature was putting on her own show – or as Carly commented, the show was so good that God was the opening act. I didn’t get lucky enough to catch the big streaks with my camera, but the flashes give you some idea of what was going on.

Through all of this, Cameron was a champ, by the way. The lightning and thunder didn’t seem to alarm him much at all. But keep in mind, he’s not even four, and we’re talking about two hours under an umbrella, sitting on my lap. By the time the first teaser fireworks went up a half hour before the show was to begin, he got squirmy. Just before each set, he whined sleepily that he wanted to go home – but then would be convinced to stay by the teasers. By the time the show was almost ready to begin, we were packing up, slowly, hoping that he’d choose to stick around once things got interesting.

The show started! And seemed to stop. I’m still not sure what happened – I guess that they had some technical difficulties, and a large number of fireworks didn’t go off. Either that or they had a miscommunication with Mother Nature, she was supposed to provide a section? She contributed a little as you can see in the wee clip, but not like earlier. Then things started up again.

We didn’t quite make it to the halfway mark. Two hours of lapsitting under an umbrella is a lot to ask of Cameron, and he was tired, in an unfamiliar situation. We had to leave.  It didn’t bother me at all. Between the misfortune of competing with the power of a lightening storm, and perhaps whatever glitch they had, South Africa wasn’t impressing me with their fireworks. To their credit, they did seem to have a gorgeous palette of colours to work with, and made liberal use of the more brilliant ones.

One thing that Saturday evening illustrates beautifully. You can plan an outing – but it’s those random quirks that happen that make it an adventure. We had an adventure, no doubt about it.


One response to “Fireworks Opening Act: Mother Nature

  1. my favourite parts:

    trying to take pictures in our “umbrella tent”, walking in the pouring rain and the petty satisfaction of riding the less crowded buses.

    Also, falling asleep to Cameron’s bedtime story across the room. AWESOME.


    thanks for a great adventure!

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