Sunday, July 26, 2009

Fireworks? I'll show you fireworks!

It was the second night of Vancouver's Celebration of Light, the international fireworks competition, and South Africa was up. They did a great job, once we got to them, but the opening and collaborative act was the combination of a long and powerful thunderstorm coinciding with a glorious sunset.

First, the 1) Thunderstorm! Seen from Kitsilano, blue and white bolts striking behind downtown and the West End, stalking into North Shore Mountain valleys and finally moving west into the 2) Sunset! Cloud to ground, cloud to cloud, some of the bolts more like fireballs, their paths curving. People gathering on rooftops and balconies for the evening's fireworks shouting and oohing. Sheet lightning, bolts, the whole kit, and meanwhile a mist of fine rain dispersing all the light so that half the sky is amber/apricot from the sunset, half is blue/indigo, the blurred boundary a mauve/gray, indigo gradually moving across the sky until the sunset is a band on the horizon, but the lightning continues, no wind, the storm is basically sitting on us, and then the 3) Fireworks! By the time those started the rain had stopped and the storm had settled into sheet lightning outlining the mountains, but one sheet of blue covered the entire sky, its thunderclap-and-roll overwhelming the boom and crack of the fireworks. Even after the human display was over the sheet lightning continued. The storm lasted more than two and a half hours. 'Fireworks, eh? I'll show you fireworks!'

Image by Frank Eerdt, Vancouver Sun; photo gallery here.