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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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….