A few months ago, back before the snow was flying and when there was daylight past the hour of 4 PM, we had just finished eating supper when something outside caught Gary's eye. He excitedly exclaimed, "Look, it's a balloon!" I glanced out the window with considerably less enthusiasm than my dear spouse and flatly answered, "Yup, it's a balloon." And there it was, a large hot-air balloon drifting along the summer sky. For a moment I wondered why my dear husband gets so excited about all things aviation...and then I remembered how many times I have nearly made him drive off the road when I became overly exuberant pointing out a beautifully fenced pasture or some unusual livestock as we pass a farm along a country road, and realized that this is his "pretty fence". I decided to let him have his moment. I knew what the next words out of his mouth would be, " Get your camera, let's follow it!" To which I halfheartedly protested, " I don't even have my shoes on." He assured me that we wouldn't even get out of the car, "You don't need your shoes, hurry before we miss it!" Well, I am game to take pictures of just about anything, so, camera in hand, I jumped in the car-in my stocking feet-and off we went, following the balloon as it sunk lower and lower into the evening sky.
After traveling down several roads in hot pursuit, we caught up with our colorful friend and noticed yet another balloon making it's way toward us. The second balloon was getting very low as it approached. Soon we saw the ground crew vehicle pass us by, looking for a place for the craft to safely 'put down'. Of course, Gary got very excited about the prospect of watching the balloon land, and seeing the crew at work. I just was glad to get some pretty pictures.
The balloon dipped toward the ground several times and then ascended again briefly while searching for the perfect landing spot- with us following along the entire way.
We caught up to the balloon just as it settled along the edge of an empty parking lot, the ground crew immediately sprang into action, grabbing tethers and pulling the balloon down to the ground as it deflated.
Then, with the precision of an Army drill team, the crew gathered the "Envelope", or as I like to call it, the balloon carcass, wrapped it......
Of course, Gary had a lot of questions for the crew once they finished their work. He asked them where they had launched the balloon. I kind of chuckled at the answer, "Eisenhower Elementary School." The reason this amused me was that the school is a mere 10 miles from where they landed-that is-10 miles by car, not as the crow...errrr...balloon flies. I thought that seemed like a ridiculous amount of work for such a short joy ride, until I considered the number of times that I have hitched up a horse trailer, loaded horses, tack, buckets and supplies and driven for two hours to take a short trail ride with friends. To each his own, I suppose. The balloonists would more than likely find it strange that I sit in my pasture and pet sheep.
I will have to concede that, in spite of my initial protests, I did find the process to be fascinating even though it did not involve anything of a farmy nature. I guess there is a lesson in there somewhere about supporting and appreciating each other's interests and passions.
I probably should have put my shoes on though.