Sunday, March 17, 2013

Attack of the Hot Air Balloons!

It was a year ago this month, on a beautiful weekend like this, that my girls and I were having dinner on our back porch.  Daddy was on his annual pilgrimage to Bristol, TN, a land where children learn such songs as "The Wheels on the Nascar can't make right turns" or "Heads, I got slammed into the shoulder..."  The girls and I were on our own!  We had big plans alright!  Pizza on the newly-cleaned back porch, special dessert (yum - microwave brownies!), and an episode or two of VeggieTales!

As we're sitting outside, enjoying the evening breeze and dwindling sunlight, we hear a rushing sound.  Whoo-OOOSH!  Whoo-OOOSH!  It wasn't so much a loud sound as unknown.  The twins are momentarily paralyzed but then begin freaking out.  What strange creature could be coming our way?  Naturally it has only one thing on it's mind - twin-napping!  The girls start climbing my legs, overcome by the fear of meeting this unnatural apparition.  "Relax," I tell them, "It's just a balloon."  B'oon?  B'oon?  What b'oon makes THAT noise?  "I'll show you!"

A mile or so from our house there is a field by the Ingles where hot air balloons are launched.  Sure enough, we see one of these beasts floating up into the air, accompanied by the afore-mentioned terror-inspiring  sound of the hot air filling the brightly-colored silk of the balloon.  The twins are amazed!  But where is the string?  The girls start crying, thinking of the balloon sailing off into the great unknown, and no one there to rescue it.  With the help of big sister, I explain the concept of sailing balloons into the sky.  WOW! We return to dinner, mystery solved.

As we dine we continue to hear the rushing sound of the hot air.  "Mommy," says my eldest, "That sounds so close."  I agree.  We eat, when suddenly it dawns on me.  Whoo-OOOSH!  WHOO-OOOSH!  Hmm...that DOES sound close...I ask the girls to stay on the back porch and head out front.  Oh my...apparently it sounds close because the balloon is 20 - 30 feet off the ground, blundering it's way up our street.  Well, that's kind of cool...never seen it this close's lumbering bulk is slowly moving up our street...and then veering...STRAIGHT TOWARDS OUR HOUSE.  Of course this guy is going to turn, right?  I mean, seriously, it's not like he doesn't know there is a house there, right?  Uh...I mean, surely he sees my house...does he see my house?  Oh crap!  He can't miss it, can he?  It's the structure he's about to crash into.  He's now starting to drift up my incredibly short driveway, and I can hear frantic clicking noises.  It's surreal!  This balloon is drifting lower and lower...closer and closer...I mean, can you imagine trying to explain to YOUR insurance carrier that you have damage to your house because some guy hit it with a hot air balloon?!?  "That house came out of NOWHERE, Officer!"

"Hey!  What's going on?"  I yell,  "Are you going to go over my house?"  Do I get the girls out of the back porch.  Do I run for cover?  What the heck do I do?  Where is my husband?  House damage is definitely "man" territory.  My brain is transfixed by the slow-motion train wreck oozing towards me.  One of the people in the basket yells, "Do we jump out?  Why are we so close to that house?!?"  Oh...&#$%...that's not good.  The operator hollers back, "I'm going to try to fly over your house?"  What the?...Why not BETWEEN the houses?  Why not further up the street?  WHY MY ROOF?!?

Suddenly the burners kick in.  No more "whoosh."  Now it's the roar of a jet engine, and the balloon magically shoots into the air.  The operator shouts, "OH THANK GOD!"  You are telling ME?!?  My girls come screaming through the house like bansidhes, certain of imminent danger.  The balloon shoots up and over, barely clearing my roof.  If he was two feet to the left, I still would have lost my chimney.  I can see the people in the basket, relief written all over their faces.  My legs and brain unfreeze, and I shoo the girls back into the house.

It hits me that perhaps I should be documenting this electronically.  I run through the house, grabbing my phone as I go, and pop out of the back porch in time to see the balloon right over my backyard.  I didn't zoom or anything.  This is a picture of the balloon almost directly over my head.

Once again, the jet engines roar, and the menace shoots directly up into the air.  

The danger resolved, the balloon resumes it's peaceful journey into my neighbor's back yard.  "OK," the operator says, "Well, that was a little more eventful than normal..."  Ya think?

The wind continues to drift the roar of the balloon back to us.  We keep a wary eye on our foe, pizza in hand (what, like property damage is a reason to lose one's appetite?).  It bobs majestically out of sight.

As I took this picture it hit me that the balloon was now back over the why the close call over my roof I couldn't say.  For weeks the twins had nightmares of roaring, bulbous monsters attempting to eat them.

We went back inside to get dessert.  The front door was open, sunlight pouring through the glass door.  The twins cuddle on the couch, shaken.  C wanders the family room aimlessly.  Suddenly she streaks to the glass door and starts screaming, "IT'S GONNA CRASH!!!!"  I drop the brownie pan on my foot, batter everywhere, and promptly begin uttering a series of unmentionable obscenities.  Towel and phone in hand, I hop to the door to be greeted by this sight:

A different balloon was floating through the other neighborhood, WELL above the tree tops, although it was hard for C to know that, given our recent encounter.

The night ended with no dessert, a lesson in distance and perspective, the doors and windows TIGHTLY locked, a hysterical call to a howling Daddy (no, I didn't have enough time to change the locks before he came home, wisely bearing flowers), and all three girls super-glued to mommy on the couch attempting to watch VeggieTales...

About a week ago, we saw this in the field:

Gazing thoughtfully at the scene, my eldest muses, "Wouldn't it be cool if they flew over OUR house?  I bet, if we stood on the roof, we could almost touch them..."

You have no idea, kid...

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