milkweed and balloons

While I was at Pippin’s for a few days last week we went to a balloon festival. We had to get up in the dark and drive half an hour to Montague in the Shasta Valley, to see the filling and lift-off of about a dozen hot-air balloons.P1010826 flame balloon

Before the sun came up it was chilly. Pippin managed to get all three car seats in the back seat of her Outback, so we could go in one car. The Professor had to drive the roomier van the opposite direction that morning to get it worked on.

The stars were so bright, it thrilled my heart! But I didn’t have time to gawk – we put on our warm caps and fleecy sweaters and were on our way. Straight ahead was a huge star – ah, but not a star. Probably the planet Venus.

GL IMG_0515 Scout and Ivy balloons

I don’t think I had ever seen balloons filling before. It’s very dramatic the way flames whoosh noisily into the expanding emptiness after simple fans have run for a while to accomplish the initial inflating.P1010851 my fave inflating crp

My favorite was the one at right with a design that included a lot of black, but I soon realized that it looks better on the ground. Once it is in up in the air it is too dark and muted. The gaudier a hot air balloon the better, for complementing the wide open sky. Besides, a giant drifting balloon is a fun and cheerful thing, and maybe a dark blob up there doesn’t agree with that mood, being too reminiscent of a black cloud.


P1010875 4 balloons + women


Scout wanted to climb up a little hill with his friends, to get a better view. I started up after them but turned back because of the star thistles. Pippin had run into some friends and they were still out on the flats behind me, with Jamie in the BOB stroller. All around me this rosy weed was the only thing easily seen besides those thistles and the sparse and flattened grasses, and it was scattered all over.


Soon all the balloons were up and floating over the hill. Scout is in this picture somewhere.

P1010884 many balloons and hill

P1010897 milkweed

Pippin decided to try to find where the balloons were going to land, so she drove around on the bumpy roads, and when I saw a solitary balloon setting down in a field she stopped the car so I could get out to take a picture. At the same time she said, “There’s a nice crop of milkweed,” and Scout said, “Oh, I want some milkweed pods! I know how to plant them!”

I took my picture and then managed to break a sharp-edged pod off a plant that was also tangled up with star thistle — ouch! I got one that hadn’t quite released its feathery seeds. I also don’t think I’d seen milkweed pods before. I gingerly stashed it in my purse.


P1010905 deflating

Around another corner we saw from a slight elevation where two balloons were coming down together. One started to deflate, the second one came down and went up again briefly to hop a fence, and then we had to leave and call it a good balloon-watching morning. We came home with lots of pictures and milkweed seeds. Only then did we eat breakfast!



More about my trip in upcoming posts….

10 thoughts on “milkweed and balloons

  1. Right before we moved away from the North Bay, my husband took me on a balloon ride for my birthday, in April. What a present! As you so well describe, it’s quite an event, beginning with the filling of the balloons at dawn, and then the launching in the cool air, and the the vehicles that follow are an important aspect, also. The view from the balloon is delightful. What I remember, also, are the changes in temperature: of course, whenever the balloon captain wanted to go up, he would turn the fire on, and it was extremely hot underneath it! Then, when he turned it off, it was quite cold in the early morning, up there.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love milkweed. My grandmother and I used to collect it together for fall flower arrangements and now I grow it for the Monarch butterflies….Hot air balloons are wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoyed learning about milkweed and its essential provision for Monarch butterflies. Then recently I learned about passion flower vine and the one butterfly that needs it for a host…The Great Host does so much special hosting in His creation…

    It was fun to share a bit of the special hosting you just experienced…lovely pictures to go along with your story.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a splendid day ! Watching giant balloons with family, collecting milkweed pods. I don’t remember ever seeing any milkweed growing around here but I think they’re a beautiful addition to dried bouquets and special crafting projects.

    A day starting in morning darkness and ending with brilliant sunshine and bright hot air balloons sounds so happy and looks so happy in your pictures too.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wonderful balloons!!! And sweet, drifting milkweed seeds. Will you be planting some of your seed in your xeriscape gardens? I love it. It’s not in my gardens, but all around the place.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.