Fireworks

Posted on Jul 9, 2013 | 0 comments

The last night of our vacation on the Vineyard was July 4th. My sister-in-law Susan, an organizer extraordinaire, invited us to join her and her friends for a picnic on the beach to watch the Edgartown fireworks.

We’d had a lot of dreary weather during the previous 10 days, but on this final day of our visit, the weather was glorious. The afternoon sky was blue and nearly cloudless. We had spent a perfect couple of hours on a north-side beach, alternately basking in the hot sun and swimming in the gentle waters of the Vineyard Sound. Tonight, at the beach party, my niece Katie and a couple of dozen of her friends from school and other assorted small children were playing in the water even as the light dimmed, chucking clumps of seaweed at each other and generally running wild while their parents sipped drinks, chatting and hovering around a potluck table crammed with dishes. It was a very Vineyard kind of picnic.

The sky was clouding over, but no one really noticed.

The kids and I took a walk along the water’s edge to see what was just around the bend. As we rounded the point, we saw a single moored sailboat bobbing gently on a quiet inlet, its mast silhouetted against a glowing spot of pink sky. We stopped to watch, and the pink spot spread like watercolor on a tissue, intensifying as it spread. After a moment, the bottom of the swollen sun appeared and we understood what was happening: the sun was about to emerge from behind a cloud that was hovering just above the horizon. The sliver of sun grew quickly and the edge of the earth lit up with pink. We could see the sun moving and the sky changing, it was happening so quickly. In a few more moments, the full orb of the sun was visible, huge and bright and slightly pink. Then it began to disappear again, dropping behind the horizon, and the sky darkened to a dusky purple.

We walked back to the party, rewinding and reviewing the sunset in our minds.

About an hour later, the fireworks began—at least we thought they did. There was a loud popping in the distance, and every so often the sky would light up pink or green or white. But we couldn’t see any sparks or glittery patterns exploding in the sky. The firework barge was blanketed in fog; the fireworks were invisible. The assembled spectators first shouted in dismay, then murmured their disappointment. Why didn’t the organizers call a rain day? Postpone the show? Try again tomorrow? People gathered their things and began to leave the beach.

We left, too. But we were feeling buoyed, not disappointed. We had had our fireworks, and we would remember them a long, long time.

 

 

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