Tuesday, May 12, 2009
One of my favorite things about mornings here is walking into my backyard and seeing hot air balloons gliding by. There is a popular launch site just a mile to the east of us, so we see them several days a week. Sometimes they float right over our yard and we can wave to the basketful of people. The propane gushes flames, roaring like a dragon as they drift up over the hills. Usually there are at least four or five, sometimes a dozen balloons with the trademark giant saguaro on a rainbow background.
We took a balloon ride a few years ago over land that is now covered with houses and streets. The land below was a maze of dry washes with lines of palo verde and ironwood marking their traces. Black-tailed jackrabbits loped across the desert grazing on shrubs and grasses. Ravens swerved and called between our small group of balloons. There is a special kind of silence floating through the air. Riding a balloon feels like being smoke.
The ride was magical, but it is just as magical to see them from the ground, sometimes rising or setting like a giant colorful sun from behind the hill. The big wicker basket, the flames, the kaleidoscope of fabric seem part of another world, another time. Sometimes, with the world the way it is here on the ground, hot and violent in so many places, it is a great relief to be taken for just a moment into the fantasy world of ballooning.