Photograph by Chloe Nanian

I think balance when I think of WaterFire. The Earth. The Wind. The Water.The Fire. When Mother Nature cooperates, and She usually does, the symmetry is both magical and spiritual. The balance is enhanced, questioned, or changed by the audience’s desires, by the musical choices, or by the fire-tenders’ movements. When alone, I prefer to walk and quietly let all the ingredients seep into my mind’s eye, hearing the variety of Barnaby Evans’ choices from “Dounuya” by Mamadou Diabate or “Short Trip Home” performed by Joshua Bell or “Radio Bagdad” composed and performed by my friend Jenifer Smith. The music enhances my emotional well being, appeasing it, challenging it, or enlightening it.I have always walked the whole route on both sides of the rivers. That’s what I love to do. The experience is zestful, peaceful, and private in a positive manner.

When I have been with friends, things are different, we have dined at the Café Nuovo outside, we have viewed WaterFire from lofty law offices at Citizen’s Bank, we have watched the ballroom dancers polish the ebony floor, we have stopped to listen to Manny Pombo’s sexy sax playing, we have taken in Trinity Rep’s “Midsummer Night Dream” at the amphitheater, and we have admired the mime artists doing their individual things. We have had Marco gondola us about on an elegant ride. We’ve used Joe’s Water Taxi for a communal trek. Yes, WaterFire can be a very special event indeed. A late run to Haven Bros. can wrap up the eve ever so down-to-earthly.

Earth. Wind. Water. Fire. WaterFire yields so many things to so many people. My little narrative is one of many storytellers mingling, mulling over tales, telling their stories after viewing WaterFire.What will your story be?

– Charles Sullivan

This essay was originally written for Reflections on WaterFire a series of stories and essays written by local thought leaders to mark the 100th lighting of WaterFire on September 1, 2001.