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Who would have though snow could burn?” –Brad, surpised

A STORY FROM WHEN I LIVE AND WORKED AT A SUMMER CAMP YEAR ROUND

12.31.98

Tim the camp director, Jason and Chickey huddled close together in a circle but it didn’t help. The matches kept blowing out in the wind. Jason doubled checked his special igniter stick that he had been carrying around wherever he went the past few days and showing it off to whoever he could corner.  “I’m going to use this to safely light the fireworks on New Year’s Eve”. He would proudly hold the igniter up for closer inspection. It was a thick cardboard pipe that would  smoulder and glow like a bar-b-que coal when lit. There was the problem. With just minutes remaining till midnight the thing just wouldn’t light. Jason glanced over at the fireworks lined up in the snow waiting to be launched the second the clocks struck midnight. He wondered how would he ever send them skyward if he couldn’t get his igniter stick to light? I joined the circle and held a glow rod close so that in the bright greenish glow we could watch another match burn out in director Tim’s hand.

Up on the bank, Nurse Heather looked at the time and said, “It’s almost midnight.” Sherri and Jenn stamped there feet in the snow trying to stay warm waiting for the celebrations of 1999 to begin. Linda pushed the brand new sleigh back and forth where bundled inside, baby Isaac slept through his very first new year. Samson, the black lab, just ran carefree over the snow not have a clue what was going on.

The director watched another match die in the wind as Jason’s igniter again failed to light. Jason decided it was time to give up on the idea of safety and resorted to more risky endeavours. He would light the fireworks directly with the matches.

The full moon broke through the clouds, lighting the the entire snow covered field and everyone watched and waited. Just before another big cloud moved across the face of the moon everyone could see director Tim, and his two compatriots bent over the fireworks, working furiously in their labours. Then everything went dark again.

Out if that darkness screamed streak of light,  flaming upward as the first firework exploded high overhead. A display of colours; reds and blues and greens burned brightly carried in the wind. Everyone shouted. “Happy New Years!” The ohhhed and awwwed as another firework flashed into the sky, followed by a third.

It is always important that fireworks be used properly and with caution because there is always the chance that one may not work the way it should. The next rocket was just one of those. The blue streaks didn’t shoot up, they shot out, all over the place, whizzing in wild circles. Tim and Jason dove to safety in a snowbank. Chickey panicked and froze momentarily. Then he ran. One of the flashes nearly set his hat, imported from Russia, alight with blue flame.

With many more fireworks to light, Director Tim ran out of matches. He hurried to the Ski-doo to fetch more when Nurse Heather shouted, “Tim! Your pants are on fire!” We all looked down to see a orange glow coming from his pocket. I thought he was about to stop, drop and roll, which is what you should do if you ever find your clothes bursting into flame. Instead, he reached into his pocket and pulled out the flashlight which he had forgotten to turn off.

Tim returned with more matches and the last of the fireworks exploded in the night sky (As they should). We then lit some giant sparklers and waved them, making patterns in the air until there was nothing but charred metal rods left in our hands, threatening to poke someone’s eye out.

Someone mentioned we should of had a fire as the last sparkle died, but we didn’t have firewood in the middle of the snowy field. Tim came up with the idea of using the heel of his boot to make a bowl like impression in the snow. Then using gas from the snowmobile, he filled the depression to the top. His idea was to light it providing a fire like one you see burning in iron cauldrons in memorial displays of one type or another. This will really only work if you actually have an iron cauldron we were soon to learn. The gas tends to seep through the snow beneath looking for channels to run. When Tim drop his match into the petroleum it blazed up from the depression in a burst of heat, not unlike the flame you would see burning throughout the Olympic games. Then we noticed something odd, streaks of light moving below the crust of the snow like forks of blue lightening. Then gouts of flames flashed up through the surface, licking the soles of our winter boots and making us all dance for rain.

Everyone moved uphill and watched as the gasoline rapidly burned itself out. When all the lights had vanished we headed off on our separate paths to live 1999.

And as he did Jason threw his igniter stick away in the woods and never mentioned it again.

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2 thoughts on “Thought 95: The New Years Fireworks of 1999

    • Thanks Lily, Just remember that you can’t catch snow on fire if you go to Summer camp in the Summer time. For that activity you need to attend Summer camp in the Winter.

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