Tuesday, July 15, 2014
July 4th was my first day back from a vacation in the Canadian Rockies. It turns out that they celebrate Canada Day on July 1st, the same week as our Independence Day. Terry and I went to watch fireworks in the small mountain town of Jasper Alberta. The whole town must have shown up to see the fireworks display on the soccer field of the local high school. Everyone found a spot on a steep grassy hill. Some people wore the Canada flag as a cape and there were plenty of Canada flag temporary tattoos. At the base of the hill next to the baseball diamond was a fenced in beer garden. People got anxious as it got closer to the start time which was very late. The sun sets much later way up north in the cool mountains.
It was still dusk when the first burst went off and echoed off the mountains. Streaming rockets that looked like comets reached up to the night sky. There were fireworks I had never seen before like twirling disks and showering curtains of light. I watched the crowd whose faces became illuminated by the bright explosions. Huge bursts went off only a few feet above the ground. A mortar rotated, firing like a machine gun in quick succession. Smoldering embers burned out in the grass. The crowd was constantly muttering oooh and aaah in appreciation. There was a magnificent finale with bursts layered on top of each other in a thunderous roar. People applauded and were surprised by a second even bigger finale. Then there was the crush of the crowd as everyone tried to leave. I took Terry's hand so we wouldn't be separated. One family had watched the fireworks from a boat that sat on a trailer next to the park. "Only in Jasper" one local high school student remarked.
Terry wasn't up to going to Lake Eola to see Orlando's fireworks. She needed some down time after all our traveling. I ventured out on my own to sketch. People had staked out their viewing spots hours before the fireworks were to start. The family seated in front of me must have been tourists from Eastern Europe. They came prepared with a full picnic and plenty of reading material. All around the lake, the crowds grew thick. The Orlando Concert Band played John Phillips Sousa tunes in the Band Shell. When my sketch was covered with red white and blue, I decided to leave. You can watch fireworks every day of the week in Orlando if you drive towards the theme parks at dusk. A woman was grateful to take my prime viewing real estate. As I walked away from the lake, crowds flowed toward the lake. Robinson was shut down. A mom explained to her daughter, "Look, its a walking and biking street!" I continued upstream like a salmon.
On the drive home, I heard a noise that sounded like something was hitting the inside of my wheel well. I turned off my radio to listen. I finally realized it was the sound of fireworks. In every direction, huge plumes of sparkling spheres exploded. Everywhere I looked the sky was on fire. In my subdivision neighbors competed with each other for the biggest blast. It was a beautiful sight. Back at home I watched Dead White and Blue with my very content Cockatoo cuddling in my lap. I got to experience Independence Day in two different countries this year. I have much to be grateful for.