Thursday, July 5, 2012

Happy Birthday, Land that I Love

Happy 4th of July to all of my American family and friends!

I am from Colorado and so much of my home state has been burning recently. It's heartbreaking. I have a few friends whose homes are in immediate danger, but thankfully have so far been spared. As for my own family, the fires don't seem to be near them.

I don't know that there will be fireworks in Colorado for this 4th? I haven't heard of a state-wide ban, but at the same time I hope and pray that there will be no new fires because of fireworks.

We don't celebrate the 4th here, obviously. But one nice thing about Japan is that all summer long there are summer festivals all over the country - both small and large - and many of them include a grand finale of fireworks. One of the largest ones is the Sumida River Fireworks Festival. Its not just a show of fireworks, its a competition between two rival teams of firework maniacs. If you have a good viewing area, you can see a mass of fireworks forming cartoon characters and even letters and words. Its truly a sight to behold.

And a human traffic jam unlike no other! One needs to get their viewing spot early in the morning and be in no rush to get home afterwards as the trains run at 150% capacity in the u-turn rush (as the masses' return home is called in Japan).

Fireworks of the smaller variety are sold all summer long. We can buy family fun packages containing various hand-held sparklers and stand up fountain sparklers in just about any shop; corner convenience stores, the 100 yen (one dollar) shops, even groceries stores in every neighborhood. You can see families and groups of friends in neighborhood parks enjoying summer sparklers. Its usually quite a safe experience as most people are sensible and responsible and take a bucket of water to put the burnt sparklers into to ensure they are completely extinguished.

On one such summer night many years ago, my husband, my babes and I ventured out to the park about a 2 minute walk from my home and lit up. My son - I think he was about three at the time - was frightened of the sparklers and only wanted to watch from afar. A great distance afar. My daughter tried to chase him with her sparklers, but he was pretty fast even then. I tried to catch him on one of his running passes by, just so he could see that there was nothing dangerous, but his speed ended up taking both of us tumbling to the ground. All the while I was holding a lit sparkler. No one was hurt and he was half-laughing, half-screaming. By the following year his fears were completely gone and it was hard to give him enough fireworks to keep him satisfied.

papers and elements from 1776 by Studio ViVa Artistry
font is Sugarbabe Dana from All Together Now 3 by Darcy Baldwin
page template is by Fiddle-Dee-Dee Designs

One of my all-time favorite fireworks is the tiniest sparkler, called a Senko Hanabi. You hold this sparkler by a wrapped string and as the sparkler burns it emits the tiniest little sparks. It is so cute and precious.

(Image from Wikipedia)

When I was a little girl, my favorite "fireworks" were the little black tablets that, when lit, would grow into a long writhing black snake-like ash tube. I very happily recall my family going to a local park and watching the city fireworks display. I was afraid of the big "Boom" sound and half the show I would be plugging my ears and closing my eyes. So many happy memories.

Obviously fireworks are not just an American or a Japanese tradition. I often wonder how and when other countries have their firework displays. Are they always a summer festival thing? What kind of event or anniversary are they celebrating? I would love to hear about your firework traditions.

This last page was my submission for the June Artisan Notebook. Speaking of Lands that I Love...

most papers and elements from Renewal by Etc. by Danyale
stitches are by Ronna Penner
page template is by Fiddle-Dee-Dee Designs
font is A Fresh Start by Darcy Baldwin

The path I chose. I chose to come here. I chose to stay. I love it here, most days. After twenty long years this place, too, is home. It can never fully be my home because.... well, mostly because I don't want it to be. Deep in my heart I will always want to "go home" to Colorado.

I'm sure when I first came to Japan I was 100% pure American in my thinking. Take that for whatever it means. But over the years, I have come to see the beauty in the "Japanese Way." Quiet. Honor. Humble. Peaceful. Polite.

I like to think that I keep a lot of wonderful American attributes in my personality as well. Independent. Strong. Creative. Christian. Brave.

I come from a country and now live in a country that were once mortal enemies. For the most part the animosity has gone and the two are friends. At least I like to think so. For my own small part I believe I am an ambassador between the two.

As I go through this life, my perspective on life changes. Things are much less black and white now. I try to be more accepting of ways other than my own. I try to be more understanding of people different than me. Listen and see with my heart and mind open. I try to judge less, wonder more. Work and live and love in peace.

 As always, thank you so much for stopping by my little corner of the world. Please come again soon.


Chloé said...

Amazing post as usual. I love your LO and your insight of Japanese culture, too!

He we celebrate with fireworks mainly on 2 occasions: Bastille Day on July 14th and for New Year's Eve. On Bastille Day the cities make the fireworks but on NYE it's mainly the people. And each and every time I'm more worried about my doggie (who freaks out!!) than enjoying the show! LOL

Lulutoo said...

Cool! I love that one hanging by the string. That is amazing! I liked those little snake fireworks, too. I remember they were little gray discs before you lit them. Didn't you hate cherry bombs? So stinky! LOL We have a ban on fireworks where I live in WI because it's so dry but I guess some places have gone ahead anyway and I heard of one display not far from here that was canceled in the first few minutes after a fire started. Penny is very happy about the ban and she doesn't mind there have been no storms, either--but we need rain REALLY bad. The grass is DEAD. :(

Summer Frost said...

I have only just found your blog your Art Journal caught my on on 2Ps I especially liked your post here about the combining of your Heritage with the your new home. Thanks for sharing.