Picture it: Rotary Park, Saturday evening at dusk. Four adults (including a one-time Boy Scout leader) and three children carry a canoe, a few inflatable dinghies, and accessories like rope, lifejackets, paddles and a headlamp across the darkening landscape. In the distance, The Chris Brine Band plays on while revellers enjoy the freedom of dancing in the street.
One bemused gentleman witnesses the assemblage from the safety of a park bench. Two smaller dinghies are secured to the canoe for the two older children. Two women soon mince their way into a third, larger dinghy behind them. A little girl, in a bright pink lifejacket, is handed to her waiting father in the canoe by the Boy Scout.
So far, so good.
The flotilla, as it is officially known, glides down Trout Creek toward Rice Lake. A few people who have staked out their spots early for the fireworks show give the flotilla curious glances, then cautious waves. The two older children are simultaneously embarrassed and emboldened. The two women wave like parade queens perched on convertibles. The two men are the only ones paddling despite every flotilla member having a paddle. The little girl continuously warns everyone not to go over the falls.
Night is falling as the flotilla enters Rice Lake. The adults, despite their bravado, are all mildly worried about sinking or being apprehended by whatever marine authority patrols the water. It is a perfect night to be on the water. A slight summer breeze and slow current means the flotilla can just drift along the edge of Milt Dunnell Field to enjoy the show — that is, until a few strangers wearing vests with the stern signage of SECURITY emerge through the bushes.
The jig must be up.
But security merely warns the flotilla of being too close to the impending fireworks display; best if they watch the show from the west side of the lake. Nervous giggles pair with sighs of relief; the men paddle toward the new viewing area.
Music still blares from Queen Street, but crowds are starting to assemble on the Victoria and Trestle bridges. Fireflies light up the shoreline as everyone waits as patiently as possible for the show to begin. The adult passengers of the flotilla continue to congratulate themselves for their ingenuity and daring to (so far) successfully execute such a feat with only a half-hour of planning, a canoe, and a good sale on pool inflatables at Canadian Tire.
Suddenly, the warning shot fires and the show begins.
As expected, the fireworks light up the sky. The flotilla passengers are amazed by how much the pyrotechnics also light up the water and shoreline. It’s good the flotilla moved from its original location; otherwise, a different and more tragic story might have been told. Even on the other side of the lake, the resulting light show feels so close that one could just reach out and grab some of that multi-coloured light.
The show goes on impressively long. Jaded disbelief is suspended, replaced by child-like wonder. The actual children on the flotilla grow sleepy, and the little girl begins crying at the loudness of the explosions. The finale of the show is awesome in the truest sense of the word; the entire area is engulfed by a riot of purple, red, green and white.
Fireworks viewed from any location other than this will only disappoint.
Smoke hangs above the water after the show, revealing many more canoes than the flotilla members originally believed to be present — although, as they smugly note, they are the only flotilla. The women and children disembark the flotilla at Milt Dunnell Field. They go their separate ways for the evening, leaving the men to return to the original port of call, tear down the flotilla and return the components via a convoy of minivans.
It’s almost like it never happened… until next year.
I recently bought a small, 2.5 litre slow cooker as my large one is only good for feeding an army. I’m surprised how much I’m using it; slow cookers are for more than just winter-friendly stew or chili, and Mexican food just says summer!
Salsa Verde Steak in the Slow Cooker
2-3 lbs. boneless round steak or another cut of beef
1 cup salsa verde
1/2 cup beef broth or water
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
1 onion, sliced
taco fixings such as lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, etc.
Cut meat into large chunks. Place it and onions in the crockpot. Combine the salsa, broth and seasonings. Pour over the steak. Cook on high for 5-6 hours or low for 7-8 hours. Shred the meat and serve in the tortillas with the fixings.