We were chasing fireworks out of celebration. This one in 1995 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam's reunification after twenty years. We followed huge outbursts of brocade, peony and comet arcing through hot night sky. Chasing close and under shattering domes, admist the oohs and aahs explosive remnants rained on our heads.

Big time 1997. Among hundreds and thousands pushing shoulder to shoulder we inched our way to the car-free highway. Magnificent neon lights reflected on dark water murky brilliant Victoria Harbour. We waited for the thundering discharge of flaming flowers from six or seven barges. Big roars synced with pyro-music one after another, and another. The night canvas splattered bright with gigantic chrysanthemum…willow…crossette…horsetail and legs of thousand spiders. A hesitant child running back to his mother. There's always reasons for fireworks celebration isn't it? For a returned land or a bad runaway year. Long live the country, whichever it is, auld lang syne as old times sung, and remembered.

However, the best firework I recall was the awe-inspiring Sky Ladder. On June 15 two thousand fifteen 4:45 a.m. a fiery ladder rising, burnt in a dawn sky 1650 feet high two minutes and thirty seconds. Firework wizard Cai Guo-Qiang dedicated the spectacular display to his beloved grandmother, who taught him how to safe-handle fire. From her sick bed she climbed the sky. The hundred-year-old woman would ascend to heaven one month after.

Memories working like fireworks in neurons. For a decade, every first day of July we watch fireworks from a long narrow window on the third floor of a centennial old house we now call home. Humble explosives shot up several stories high from our neighboring houses. Still creates wonder, still arouses our cat Suki lounging on my lap with wild glowing eyes. I try to tell him it's Canada Day. History, big or small, he knows nothing of nor care for any. Just bewildered.

Published on Jul 21, 2018
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