For many years I have dreamed of going up in the air in a hot air balloon. My husband so kindly gave me a gift certificate for a hot air balloon ride for my birthday and on June 5 of this year, my dream was realized. The experience was amazing. Once the balloonist decided the weather was suitable for flying, we all assisted in taking the balloon out of its large duffle bag and unraveling it. Then two large fans were set up to fill the colourful material with air. Soon it grew to an enormous size dwarfing the people around it. When it was almost filled to capacity and attached to the sturdy wicker basket, hot air was blown into it and it began to right itself. The balloonist then instructed the eager passengers to jump into the basket, and without a moment to spare, we were airborne.
I closed my eyes for a minute. Is this really happening? Am I actually flying in a hot air balloon? When I opened my eyes we were floating over farms, dense forests and green fields with Mount Baker always in clear view. There was no feeling of movement, just the sensation of being suspended in air. Like Arianna in Jane Urquhart’s novel Changing Heaven, I felt as light as milkweed. I could see deer running in and out of the forest and cows making their way home. A wooden bridge crossed a stream and dogs barked at us from farmyards. It was like looking down on a miniature rural scene. I relaxed and enjoyed every moment.
Our seasoned aeronaut landed the balloon in a field of clover so gently we did not realize we were back on the ground. The evening ended with all of us flattening the balloon, rolling it up and packing it away for the next adventure. Then we shared the traditional glass of champagne as the sun set behind the mountains. A perfect end to my dream come true!