I remember as a kid, growing up in the UK, that there were lots of warnings about fireworks. We got the message every year around Guy Fawkes night on 5 November. Lots of warnings about children who had lost eyes or suffered other injuries after playing with fireworks. The need to let a responsible adult do all the work. Look out for hedgehogs hibernating in the firewood. And look after your pets as they will be scared by the loud noise.
In Geneva, Switzerland, the major fireworks display is held on our lake and is at a much more civilized time of year weather-wise – August. They spend a lot of money on the fireworks and hundreds of thousands of people come to see the spectacle.
Usually, I can’t say that I have much time for fireworks. It’s a lot of bright lights and noise, but I just don’t get much enjoyment from it. So I don’t go. If L wants to see the fireworks, she has to make plans with other people or go on her own.
One factor changed it this time around. Geneva also has a much smaller fireworks display on 1 January just after midnight and I happened to mention it to my son. He got excited and we promised to wake him up in time to go to the fireworks.
It was rather funny waking boy up at 23h40. He fell back asleep a couple of times as we put trousers, t-shirts and jumpers over his pyjamas. I offered to him that we didn’t have to go, hoping he would agree, but he was adamant that he wanted to see the fireworks. So off we went. It only takes a couple of minutes walk to get lakeside from ours, so we left it quite late to set off.
Despite the short wait it was bitingly cold last night and the fog of the last few days had also come to see the fireworks, so there was low cloud. Thanks to the multitude of lights everywhere we could see light banks of fog sitting gently on the lake. It was mysterious (mist-erious?) and beautiful too.
The boy loved the commotion. There were hundreds of people around, people parking their cars seemingly randomly along the street to come and get a view, people in fancy dress costumes with flashing lights on hats and shoes and people blasting hooters here there and everywhere.
Then it turned midnight and the fireworks began. They were okay. L liked them, she always does. The boy loved them. His first ever fireworks! The birds, they probably didn’t like them. I don’t think that we ever had warnings about birds when we were kids, just the animal warnings mentioned earlier.
I don’t do a great deal of lake visiting at midnight, so I don’t know how birds usually behave at that time. My assumption is that most of them are sleeping. As it was, there were three Mallard ducks knocking about right by the shore and people were feeding them god knows what.
Once the fireworks were set off the Mallards went a little crazy, going this way and that. And Mute Swans turned up – three groups of five or so – swimming pretty fast and then flying away, joined by the Mallards. A Goosander went the other way. Then a couple of Mute Swans followed them. I imagine it was rather disorienting for them. The noise, the lights, the people.
Thankfully, it was all over after about ten minutes and we were back home just after 00h15. The boy was fast asleep and I already had three different birds on the 2017 list, all in the first ten minutes. Hopefully the birds got back to sleep soon afterwards.