Monday, December 28, 2009
We had planned this trip for more than four months. Now my husband, Mark, and our friends - Jessa and James - were scouting the border of the field where an 'afterglow' event would take place at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. As the sun began to set we zeroed in on a Pink Floyd balloon, which became a frame of reference throughout the next two days.
Balloons grew from nothing, with deep purple mountains in the background, sun-tipped clouds above, dozens of white tents dotting the field and hundreds of people milling about.
The evening grew chilly and the scene grew magical as one after another balloon sprang to life with rosy, otherwordly illumination. After dark, I felt like a kid in a candy store while I walked amidst them on the field. Balloons filled with air and a whooshing sound and a ghostly glow surrounded me, from giant strawberries to a Wells Fargo stagecoach, and multi-colored patchwork designs.
We then arrived near sunrise the next morning, bundled in heavy coats, scarves and gloves, to see as much balloon activity as possible. Jessa and I visited the field again - this time to watch the balloons prepare for their daylight flights. The Pink Floyd balloon slowly expanded, surrounded by a crazy quilt of color and design, as the sun rose higher.
Before long, the ever-changing kaleidoscope began its ascent, with the Pink Floyd balloon only one among many hundreds - from castles to pigs and wicked witches, interspersed with ‘traditional’ balloons in a myriad of patterns.
For the next several hours we watched, mouths gaping at the sheer beauty of this event, and vowed to return to this magical Fiesta as soon as possible.