“Welcome to Bois de Filion!” declared the birthday girl as the first fireworks exploded, so close to us we were blinded and winded.
When inviting people to her annual barbecue, she tells them, deadpan, that the town puts on a fireworks show in her honour. “It has nothing to do with St. Jean,” she says, all seriousness. “A coincidence – that’s all.”
Bois de Filion is a sweet village north of Montreal, a 40-minute drive from our house. When we were younger and had to take public transit to visit her, we’d explain: “You take the metro to the end of the line and get on a special bus. The helicopter picks you up at the bridge and drops you off at the dog sled.”
Only a handful of us would brave the journey back then. About forty people came out yesterday, for the food, the fireworks and the hospitality. Oh, and to wish her a happy birthday, of course. And while most of my memories of hiking out to her place involve snow, yesterday was the hottest we’ve had so far this summer. With the UV index at 9 and holding, we slathered up in sunscreen (I’m dangerously close to developing driver’s arm) and draped ourselves in the shadiest part of her large, L-shaped back yard.
The large, multi-tiered deck is great for conversation and mingling – even when the guests are too hot to get up, they can just sort of pour themselves over to the next group. I found myself trapped in a math conversation and slithered away, only to find myself in the middle of an anime conversation … it was just a matter of time till I found the group talking about masturbating baboons at Parc Safari.
Even those of us who live for heat like this were starting to wilt by the time the sun dropped below the roofline (the town’s skyline is about two storeys high). We got a little louder and a little more excited: The fireworks would be starting soon, and they shoot them off from a field adjacent to my friend’s house, so close, she told us, that they seem to be right over our heads. Sometimes, when the wind’s just right, someone’ll get hit by debris. Now that’s a party.
Bois de Filion and the neighbouring town of Lorraine have a little “my explosions are bigger than your explosions” competition, and Lorraine was determined to be the first, if not the best. The stars were barely visible when they set of their fireworks. We peered over the hedges to see the show two and a half kilometres away.
Not bad. “Ours are better,” the birthday girl promised, laying down on the grass. She pointed straight above her face. “They will be right there.”
They were. As soon as the sun was truly down and we could make out several constellations, thundering explosions lit up the air above us. “Where are my shades?” I hollered, and they laughed like I was joking.
The show was as good as many I’ve seen at the International Fireworks Competition. It went on and on and on.
POP! Blue! POP! Red! POP! White! POP! POP! POP! till the sky was a blanket of gold, bright dust that looked as though it would rain down on us. There were three seconds of breathless silence and then the entire village raised its voice and brought its hands together in an ovation as loud as the presentation itself.
Welcome to Bois de Filion indeed. Bonne St. Jean.