Most days, when it’s late afternoon and the sun has got down to an angle to where it shines right in my face when I’m sitting at my desk, I go for a walk in the woods. I have a semi-regular route that is about 11 kms long and takes me an hour and 45 minutes to walk it, more or less. Today, when I emerged from the woods, at the end of my walk, this is the sight that faced me:
And that shot captures less than half as many as were in the sky at the time. It was a surprisingly beautiful sight!
These balloons were part of Gatineau’s annual Montgolfier Festival. (Dear Ottawa folks: there’s a lot of cool stuff on this side of the river. And it’s closer to downtown than Westboro. Just saying.) And so I stood around for a while to watch them pass. It was really quite delightful, and did much to raise my spirits on a day when I had been feeling rather blue. I’ve never been in one of these before, and I wondered what it would be like.
This one got really close, and was falling rather rapidly:
I could see the flames of the gas burner clearly and loudly, and see the people on board shouting something in French at me. Because I am a (mostly) unilingual anglophone, I shouted back the most useful French sentence I knew: “Je ne parlez pas Francais”. So someone else on the baloon shouted in English, “Catch us!” They needed some extra weight to slow them down. So I sprinted as fast as I could – not easy for me, since I injured my ankle rather badly a few years ago – and jumped on the side. The breeze still blew the balloon all the way across a parking lot, and tipped it on its side. So I ended up riding on “top”. But the balloon stopped before crashing into anything. I got off when the balloon was flat, and then I shook the pilot’s hand and went back home.
I have to say, that was perhaps the most fun thirty seconds of my summer. Next year’s festival, maybe I’ll take a longer ride than just across the parking lot.