Come Fly with Me
I am standing in a giant wicker fruit-bowl looking out onto a lush green field on the edge of the school grounds. We’re not supposed to come here without a teacher but it’s after school now and Mum’s around somewhere. Kids are swarming around, hoping to stand out from the crowd and be selected. This time luck was on my side. The determination is etched into the small faces of my sister, my friend and I. We start to hover over the field and the kids’ bobbing faces become smaller. A roar sounds above my head and I duck instinctively. The pilot is pulling on the gas and sending us skyward. I’m terrified. All I could think was: ‘oh golly gosh, my hair is going to catch fire’.
This memory flashes back as I gaze into the Melbourne sunrise and watch hot air balloons saunter across the sky. It reminds me of home. Balloons floated into town at the same time every year, just as summer gave way to autumn. The mornings were crisp with dew covering the grass. They used to fly over the house and we’d run outside and wave. Sometimes, when they were flying low, they’d wave back at me. Once, a balloon landed in a field across the road. We went straight over and had a chat, of course. It turned out there was a film crew shooting footage for a television show. Their host was famous and I was immediately star struck. She was all very professional despite the rather sudden landing across the road from my house. I trotted back home with autograph in hand.
At the end of our city’s annual Balloon Festival, we would have a Night Glow. It was quite an event, too. I loved it, large Bunsen burners glowing orange into oversized pillows against a pitch black autumn sky. The atmosphere was consistently jovial and there was plenty of delicious food to accompany the entertainment.
Back to my experience as a nine year old in the hot air balloon, a treat every kid coveted. It was the highest honour a nine year old could be bestowed. Bragging rights were guaranteed. And I was inside a balloon. Except We only made it a few metres from the ground. I still got my magical moment in a balloon. I smile at the memory. Not a hair on my head was scorched in the process either.