Sunday, June 5, 2011

dutch doors and dirigibles

This morning when I was outside letting the chickens out (and watching Gibson stalk and chase them into the ferns) I heard what I thought was the release of a shotgun far away. It puzzled me. Turkey season was over, wasn't it? What other need for a shotgun around here until fall gamebirds open up? I shrugged it off as target practice down the valley, and was about to go back inside when I heard it again. I knew exactly what it was this time: a hot air balloon taking off a mile away.

This was not a sound I would sensory-recognize any time before this past Friday night. Brett (my lumberjack friend from the Adirondacks) and I went down town to the Cambridge Balloon Festival to watch some of the giant dirigibles take off. We got to stand 20 feet from those wicker baskets and watch the flames shoot right up into the maws of those whales. They took off and hovered around Washington County like something unworldly. Like a slow, happy, alien attack when all the aliens wanted to do was float down and deliver Labradoodles and cupcakes. We watched the sky like ten-year-olds.

Both of us were pretty tired. We (read: he) build a dutch door on the barn for Jasper and shore up the beams inside. The barn here isn't exactly "stable" but it's getting there. All summer small weekend work periods like this of pouring concrete foundations and setting posts and beam supports in the loft helped keep the barn from collapsing. As of yesterday's effort, well, I think we got a few more years out of her. The next project is to build a stall inside for winter housing.

So when I realized that sound I was hearing from a chicken coop was that same burst of flame and hot air, just far away, I yelled to Gibson "TRUCK UP! TRUCK!" and we bolted for the Dodge, barely remembering to run inside for my camera. We peeled out and headed down the mountain to the lower fields and farms where I had watched these giants descend yesterday morning. Brett and I were heading to Stewart's for coffee and workshop-supplies when we drove by a few balloons landing right at the base of my mountain. The same place I let raccoons out of their traps and watch deer run away from my truck into skylined silhouettes. Yesterday, there was a 5-story balloon.

And so my little black dog and I drove south at 6:30 AM to see if once again the balloon was replacing does and convicts. I expected to see it after any switchturn on the road, a huge rainbow blob just past the trees, but it was no where to be found. Was I going crazy? I decided to get out of the truck and walk up the hill, trespassing, but not worried. There's something about looking for giant multi-colored aircraft that makes property lines seem less important. And just at the crest of the hill I saw it, not thirty yards away and a hundred feet up was the beast I heard from the farm. I stood in the tall grass and watched it fly off.

Who else is up at 6AM on a Sunday morning but whimsical air-ship pilots and farmers? A few, I suppose but not many. An odd pairing—and one not a lot of people would assume make sense side by side—but I think we suit each other just fine.


Blogger Carol said...

I love that sound, and you know it when you hear it. When we would hear it in the spring and fall around here, my kids would stop whatever they were doing, leap up and run outside, necks crooked skyward, trying to find it. And there they were, rainbows floating by, some so low we would talk to the people in them. What a wonderful sight.

June 5, 2011 at 9:22 AM  
Blogger kappachi said...

I grew up in Albuquerque NM and you should see the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta! 500 balloons in the air at the same time, it's quite a sight! They even have a special shapes day where all the crazy balloons go up by themselves. You can see a giant cow, Canadian guardsman, and giant bottle of Coke all together. :)

June 5, 2011 at 9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live on top of a hill, and one summer afternoon, with all the window's open, not long after I moved here, one of those sailed silently over my house. Until it lit off and about scared me to death! :-D at that point I ran outside to see it passing by just above the tops of the trees. Very cool to watch.

June 5, 2011 at 10:01 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

That was beautiful Jenna. A perfect pairing indeed. And I love Jasper's dutch door.

June 5, 2011 at 10:04 AM  
Blogger Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

Wow, Jenna, they are incredible pieces of machinery aren’t they ?~!

Jasper’s door looks great; a bit of wood preservative would go a long way toward extending its natural life; so neat that it comes from a friend’s tree and mill.

June 5, 2011 at 12:33 PM  
Blogger Sylvia said...

Oh, Jenna, there is a great young adult book called Leviathan that you should listen to. The audiobook is incredible. It is a steampunk novel set with living hot air beings.
I think it is probably the best book I have read this year.

June 5, 2011 at 7:17 PM  
Blogger Ivanhoe said...

OMG. That was amazing. You seriously need to write some kind of pastoral science fiction... or... I guess steampunk, as someone else here called it.

June 5, 2011 at 9:48 PM  
Blogger Louis said...

Nice alliteration, but a hot air balloons is not a dirigible. A dirigible is lighter-than-air like a balloon, but it is also powered and steerable. The term is derived from the French word diriger - to steer.

June 6, 2011 at 12:21 AM  
Blogger Gretchen said...

I just love this post, Jenna. I felt like I was there with you and I would have done just what you had done. Run after it, just to marvel. Your writing makes me laugh and warms me up. Thanks!

June 6, 2011 at 10:03 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home