Happy Anniversary, Honey!
When we lived on the farm, our neighbours always knew when he was home. Inevitably, his presence was betrayed by the large column of smoke emanating from our property. And his tall figure silhouetted against the flames, happily poking whatever garbage he had been able to find.
Our farm was amazingly trash-free.
After our move to the city, his love of fire had, of necessity, to be squelched. For the good of the neighbourhood and our own personal safety.
Neighbours can be notoriously crabby when it comes to garbage fires in their back yards.
For these reasons, he commuted his love of fire to a love of fire . . . works. They sizzled. They sparked. They exploded. They were a budding ‘pyro’s’ citified dream. They filled the void left by his unfortunate, but necessary, separation from fire.
He began a tradition. Fireworks on New Year’s Day. It was a relatively safe time. The world heavily coated in fire retardant – commonly called snow. Everyone in a festive mood, ready to celebrate.
Permits and regulations were disregarded. One merely had to invite the mayor and his family over for dinner and a show to get around those. I mean, who’s going to ticket the mayor?
We won’t go there . . .
There was a large snow bank in a field just outside of the town limits. Perfect for the display. An array of fireworks, chosen specifically from the abundant possibilities, were thrust carefully but firmly into this bank to hold them steady before their spectacular flight.
Grant had everything organized. Our second son and his friend were on hand to light things up. Strictly in order.
Explosions only on his command.
The stage was set.
The first sparklers went off without a hitch. Starlight exploded in the sky. Red, Green, White, Blue. The display was dazzling. We oohed and aahed on cue. Everything was proceeding well.
Then the event.
One candle had ideas of its own. Not a good thing when you’re a firework. It went up, but before it could fulfill the measure of its creation, its trajectory . . . changed somewhat. 180 degrees, in fact. Straight into the box of remaining fireworks.
For a moment, Grant stared at it, perhaps too shocked and surprised to really take in what had just happened. The firework spluttered warningly.
Not a good sound in the middle of a fireworks display. In an amazingly graceful leap, he cleared the snow bank, taking the two boys with him. The three of them landed in an ungainly heap.
Then, totally abandoning dignity, they scrambled frantically for the snow bank the rest of us hid behind as the real fireworks display began behind them.
It was like a scene out of a movie. For several minutes, the crackers fizzed and shot everywhere, sending up showers of sparks from wherever they happened to land. A few even made their way skyward. It was spectacular. Amazing. Fun. Everyone screamed and laughed . . . and ducked.
Then . . . silence.
After waiting several minutes, Grant finally figured it was safe to move. He crawled behind the snow bank, using knees and elbows. Sort of like a soldier approaching a bunker. A very cold, snowy bunker. With exploding things inside it.
Yes, just like a bunker.
He emerged some time later holding the still-smoking box, with the remnants of his collection and a very chagrined face.
Fortunately, no one was injured. But Grant never again held a fireworks display. For one thing, he was out of fireworks.
For another - how could he ever top that?