Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Imploding fireworks



Eh, voila. A wee post of what could have been. For Sunday evening was the absolutely splendiferous celebration of the "closing of the opening weekend ceremony" (yep, I know awkward phrasing) to herald Arles' participation as part of Marseille-Provence 2013, where France's second largest city and surrounding region (hence us) are this years European Capital of Culture. Now, if you don't live in Europe that might not sound like much of a big deal but I can assure you, it is. Many millions of Euros float thither and there to build museums and create projects, enticing architects and des artistes de renom

I have already written about Groupe F, one of the world's greatest pyrotechnic companies, who just so happen to be based outside of our little town. Multiple Olympic ceremonies? The celebration of the anniversary for the Eiffel Tower? Turn the world's tallest building into a sparkling sprinkler?* No problem. These folks (meaning a team with as many experts as the special effects department on an action blockbuster) have it all covered. So, it is probably no surprise that everyone was all a twitter (small t and big) over what they might offer along the banks of the Rhone.

Alas, I have a Golden Retriever. His name is Ben. Like many of his race he is extremely sensitive, most certainly when loud noises are concerned. Doggie Xanax and Bach's Rescue Remedy are to no avail. And so my poor sweetie is driven to extremes in such a situation. As in hiding under the toilet or the tails of my Ungaro leopard print bath robe, scratching at the tiles after jumping in the shower with whining distress. 

So, after *pif* with the first photo, I was in the bathroom with Ben for the next of the 35 minutes, holding him down when I could, consoling and trying to distract when possible. I don't complain. My dear Ben brings me more happiness than money can buy and of course we take care of our puppers because we love them like family.

As the grand finale faded into silence, I turned to him and whispered, "See? It is over. Over." He did a double take (I swear) then looked out, listening before finally succumbing to a giant sigh. After hanging out on the bathroom floor for an additional five minutes juuust to be suuure, he treaded carefully out into the dangerous lands of the "unknown" aka our apartment.


Not to worry--as I know you do--he is fine now. The photo is proof. If his expression looks rather, say, exasperated it is simply because I had the nerve to be typing at 7:02pm when Bone Delivery must occur by 7 at the very latest. And we all know that Ben always gets what he wants. He has even written written a helpful guide on that very subject.

Well, there will be other ceremonies. And as it seems that 15,000 spectators turned out to simultaneously ooh and ahh, I am content to have stayed home. There are many special events during 2013, more on which as they approach. Unfortunately, as Arles is on Provence Time (the land where it took five weeks to get the door of our washing machine repaired), some of the most impressive projects will not be ready until the end of the year or, ironically, 2014. But this remains a moment if ever there was one to visit Provence for those who have been considering it--and you know who you are!

Thank you so much to all of you that sent along "get well" wishes. They worked! All better now...hooray!

*Ok, I can't resist one Groupe F video (not to be watched while at work):


31 comments:

  1. Hello Heather:
    We are, suffice it to say, completely at one with Ben where fireworks are concerned and, whilst we appreciate that they appear to give great pleasure to countless individuals, they are exceedingly bad news for animals and, indeed, anyone, such as ourselves, who is frightened of the smallest bang.

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    1. I must agree! How I was scared of the Fourth of July as a child. Better to turn up the Beethoven instead.

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  2. Bonjour Heather. I just read this to Hailey, the Yellow Dog, who is lying down next to me. She said: "I am with Ben! What is it about these big alien sounds Humans like so much?! Seriously?!" -- I never cared much for fireworks, even as a child, and it is hard to avoid them while growing up in France, especially in July :-) On a brighter note, félicitations for living in the "European Capital of Culture!" That is really cool! I bet this means you can look forward to many celebrations and festivals throughout the year. I doubt Seattle will be the cultural capital of anything anytime soon (other than skiing or microbrew making) so I will have to rely on your photos to get my culture fix. Merci in advance, Heather. :-) Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

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    1. Heeheehee. Of course Hailey understands. And yes, July is a tricky time for us. We usually leave town entirely on the 14th for that reason but the "petards" are terrible. If Ben is off-leash, he will take off at a run if one goes off so we really have to keep an eye out. And yes, there are really amazing events all over the region--maybe that is the excuse to leave Paris this Summer? ;)

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  3. Sweet Ben! He is lucky to have someone who loves him and understands him as well as you do. Though I imagine the steadfast affection certainly goes both ways.

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    1. Oh I could never begin to give an ounce of all of the joy he gives me, Suze. He makes me laugh HARD every single day to boot.

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  4. Bless his heart! We are so tuned into our dogs that we always know exactly what they need. So wonderful they are reassured by our touch and kind words. Happy to hear you are all better.

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    1. Thanks, Sanda! Do either of your Goldens have this problem?

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    2. Neither of mine are frightened by loud noises but a Golden we previously owned was absolutely terrified by such.

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  5. I can almost imagine you consoling Ben. . .I can understand why dogs would find it hard to understand why such loud colorful explosions should be a joyous occasion. It did look spectacular!

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    1. Honestly, Jackie it was so loud that I thought "this is what bombing must sound like." If it was too much for me, I can only imagine for my pupper!

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  6. I am not a fan of fireworks myself. SO I am with Ben on this one. He has to be the world's cutest dog. That's great news that Marseille is the ECoC for this year. Our own Valletta will get to do the honours in 2018 (I can't bear the fact that I will be 5 years older though :( )

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    1. Nooo Loree, five years better. :) And maybe the ECOC status will be the excuse we need to come down to Malte!!!

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    2. Please do, I have a feeling that you might like it. As for me, Arles is becoming more and more tempting.

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  7. Oh poor Ben, my heart goes out to puppies who are terrified of storms or fireworks. xxx

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    1. Thanks d. It truly is so upsetting to see him in such a state. Luckily, he shakes it off pretty quickly but still.

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  8. Hello Heather

    I am like Ben when it comes to fireworks. I hate the noise from them - if I could watch them from my ivory tower, without the sound, I would be happy. What a great honour for your city and I hope it brings lots of business to your area

    Helen xx

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    1. Thank you so much, Helen. It really should bring many thousands of extra visitors and I know that the local shopkeepers for one are counting on it after a very slow 2012.

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  9. i love watching fireworks, it lights up the skyline with beautiful colors...


    megha
    http://meghafashionista.blogspot.com

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    1. The colors were beautiful Megha, it is true...

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  10. oh! BEN!

    sending huge waves of sympathy.

    fireworks in france are like firecrackers or BANGBANGBANG furious gunshots - we remember them well - but oh! they are utterly glorious and clever and magnifique too.

    but we feel for Ben.

    waving from a hotel room in los angeles overlooking the sunset strip (quelle glam)!

    _tgxx

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    1. Exactly my dear tg. Do you remember the "petards"--those sneaky little firecrackers that kids set off? The worst!
      But on to happier things...your arrival in LA!!!
      Hoorahhh!!! :)
      xo,
      h

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  11. Oh! Poor, sweet Ben. Lila, my mom's dog, felt the same way on new year's eve, without even a smidgen of the fire power going off around us as Ben had to brave. I'm sure he was grateful to have you there to hold his paw. Glad to know he has recovered! We are still planning on August in Provence. Hopefully my parents will both be well and we will be able to travel overseas without worrying too much about them. Keep your fingers crossed! XOXO

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    1. Oh I most certainly will dear Jeanne and I will cross Ben's paws for you too. What a wonderful treat that would be--and something to look forward to as well. It goes without saying that I would be so excited to finally meet you in person. Will continue keeping you and your family in my thoughts...

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  12. Poor critter. Personally, I'm a big fan of the more zen-like Burning Schoolhouse. Ah youth... Maybe you can acclimatize Ben for next year's display by putting a sparkler in his dog food. Small steps...

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    1. Sigh. I guess I couldn't have expected true empathy from a CAT PERSON. :€

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  13. Amazing fireworks display! Poor Ben, good thing you were there to make him feel safe.

    Congrats on being part of the European Capital of Culture, this is a big thing!

    Happy to hear you're well.


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  14. Do you think he'd wear a pair of those sound deadening earmuffs? You know the ones people wear on airplanes to tune out screaming babies on overnight flights? Those fireworks look pretty amazing.

    I am so happy to hear that you are better, though, Heather.

    Lots of light, pretty, snow here this morning, perfect for doggie cavorting.

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  15. Hugs and love to Ben. Imploding is probably the right way to put it. Humans have one phobia or another, so why not man's best friend. A great honor indeed for Arles. Congratulations!!! And as for snow, we have 9 inches on the ground and still going. My husband had been out with his snowblower clearing a wide section of the backyard for the dogs. The things we do for our furry friends...because we love them.

    xo Amelia

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  16. I remember how terrified Ben was with the hunters in Simiane! Poor thing must have been in bits!
    And because I'm a mean cynic, I find it rather funny that Marseille was chosen as the Capital of Culture... they can teach Europe all about AK-47s and drug wars! It makes me sad because it is such a beautiful city, desperately in need of more help than there is to give it.

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  17. I'm always sad to see a dog in distress about noises like fireworks. My last dog (Sunny) was a Golden Retriever. They are such beautiful and lovely natured dogs. Newcastle upon Tyne lost out to Liverpool for the 2008 European City of Culture award. It seemed a big deal at the time. Two good things came of it though: a local magazine published a list of all the great things in Newcastle, reasons why they should win. This gave us a to-do list that was brilliant. We eventually got over to see Liverpool, when Bill had a business trip there. It was a great weekend and there are many fabulous museums and sites in Liverpool. Some say that the award goes to the city that most needs help, but I think that might be sour grapes. In any case, congratulations. I've yet to see Marsailles, but hope to one day!

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