Monday, September 10, 2007

Waterfire and Reconnections

Prairiewolf and I just got back from a wonderful weekend in Kansas City, reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. It was PW's 25th class reunion and we had a "date" with one particular couple of good friends who live half a continent away. We had a great time with them and, as a bonus, we ended up reconnecting with several other old friends and acquaintances as well. There actually weren't very many of us that showed up altogether, but those of us who did seemed to have a great time.

My biggest regret, besides the fact that I don't look like I did 25 years ago, was that I didn't get to know some of these folks better back then.

The reunion, however, is only the backdrop for the main subject of this post.

Serendipitously, while we were there, Kansas City staged a new event called Waterfire. This was held Saturday night on Brush Creek as it winds through the Country Club Plaza.

Picture this:

Floating bonfires swaying down the center of the creek, stationed every 50 feet or so, their vivid orange flames reflecting boldly off the smooth dark water just below them. They form a brilliant living chain that twists down the backbone of the creek.

Smoke drifting through the air, cool breezes intermixing with sudden blasts of heat from the nearby fires.

Music filling the night, broadcast from large, well-placed (but unobtrusive) speakers. Classical arias are followed by African chants or celtic melodies, followed by chamber music or jazz. Every so often the recorded music is replaced by a spotlight shining on a classical singer, who sings from his or her heart, poised on the edge of one of the bridges traversing the creek.

The crowd meandering up and down the creek, some staying above on the roads and bridges, others venturing to walk along the creek, with still others resting on the steep, grassy slopes. Occasionally a member of the Vesuvius fire troupe performs amid the people, juggling blazing batons or breathing fire high into the air.

Sounds of laughter and talking interspersing with applause and sometimes just with awed pockets of silence.

It was a mystical evening, capping off a magical weekend.

A friendly stranger, leaning beside me on a bridge railing, avidly watching the fires and the crowd too, mentioned that they were repeating the event on October 13. I haven't verified that fact but if they do, I'd prescribe attendance for anyone who could use an evening's antidote to the humdrum ordinariness of everyday life.

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