Monday, 2 July 2012
Boom went the moon
Some years ago, one of younger daughter's "guardian angels" mentioned that a good place to see fireworks is from the vantage point of Stanley Park which occupies the left bank of the Rideau River just before it tumbles into the larger Ottawa River in a curtain of water (hence the name "rideau").
Finding myself short a few steps on my daily pedometer minimum, I resolved to see if this were true. The day had been hot, but not particularly humid (unusual for Hades in the summer), and the evening air was as comfortable as a second skin. I made my way through the streets of New Edinburgh, making out silhouettes against the not-quite-dark sky, shadows of those atop the taller apartment buildings waiting for the pyrotechnics. I heard the popping and crackling of firecrackers from the nearby streets, and as I passed two young men who had just shackled their bikes to a dark veranda, they tossed the first of two small fireworks into the air behind me, startling me with a showering of blue and green embers.
As I got closer to the park, I was joined by more and more pedestrians walking in the same direction. Just as my feet hit the grass leading to the riverside path, the first explosion boomed ahead and the sky glowed scarlet. Immediately I heard shouts and shrieks and tall pale figures pelted from the street toward the river while smaller white figures raced in the exact opposite direction. Younger kids startled by the noise, I supposed, and perhaps drunk on the excitement of being out after dark.
I picked up my pace, my view obscured by the thick foliage of the river bank. Soon I reached the paved section opposite the tennis courts where several family groups had set up camp chairs while younger ones sat on the cement edge and dangled their feet over the river. I could have pushed farther in to the open area near Sussex Drive where I suspect young Jared Young took the above photo in 2009. (I suspect he's young; how many people over the age of 25 are named Jared?) However, I'm not a fan of crowds and this grouping was small and civilized. I planted myself behind a woman slightly shorter than myself and peered through a triangle made by the limbs and trunks of a birch tree: blossoming balls of twinkle, showers of sparkle, and, new this year, odd sideways umbrellas of glitter. Appreciative gasps and murmurs all around.
The river was like glass. Every time there was a boom, the full moon hanging over the opposite bank seemed to echo it. I half expected to see it burst into a million bright shards. Sitting with her back to the brilliance, a young woman checked her text messages.
The fireworks rarely last longer than twenty minutes, so I retraced my steps in order to beat the stampede back to the cars. I passed a boy on a bench, shielded from the show by huge beeches. He too was engrossed in his phone.
As I came to where I had entered the park, I remembered I had seen the first fireworks reflected in the bend of the river. Even now there was still someone sliding carefully down the rocks to the river's edge where a dozen people were perched precariously. I peered through the leaves at the final large bursts of light, doubled by the almost perfectly still waters of the Rideau.
Even as I hurried back into the side streets, I could see a long line of recreational vehicles joining the line-up along Crichton Street to wait for the traffic light at the intersection leading either to St Patrick's Bridge or the Vanier Parkway. I looked up and noticed that the moon was now muffled by mackerel clouds, booming no more.