I ran into Charlie DeRose this week. He owned the first hot air balloon I ever handled. I haven’t seen him in years but recognized him immediately. “I’m sure you don’t remember me Mr. DeRose,” I said, “ but in 1978 you changed my life”. It was a golden moment; we had a lovely chat.
There used to be a little annual balloon rally at a farm in Cummington, MA, maybe 15 balloons. The second year I attended, I was tripping on mushrooms. We came in a group of six people and we were so blissed out that we found a big flat granite rock on the outside edge of the field and just watched with that impossibly wide psychedelic grin and laughed for the sheer joy of the beautiful visions.
It was a foggy morning. The balloons never lifted off but they all stood up and stayed inflated for two hours, the roaring burners of the propane tanks succeeding only in dissipating the white air into layers thin enough to see the colors through. The photos of that rally were unearthly.
So anyway, here we are tripping on this rock and grooving on the colors when this guy walks up and says, “My crew didn’t show up. Anybody want to help”? It was Charlie. No one knew him. There was a long moment of silence. I looked around the group and stood up, followed closely by Joe, my husband at the time. No one else did.
Charlie told us what to do and we stood that balloon up and gave tether rides for two hours. Joe got to do most of the flying; I mostly got to work the ropes, not really an unattractive task. It feels like holding a giant party balloon and in the many years I ended up crewing later, it never stopped amazing me that I could change its direction, all by myself, simply by yanking on the rope.
It’s been years since I’ve touched a balloon but I’ve been thinking about the parallels between flying one (in the pre-radio communication days) and the fight against the WOUND. Both require a leap of faith, particularly in the chase. The balloon in the climate of the ambient physical atmosphere and the other in the socio-political climate but both require reading the currents and making a judgment for action based on the relevant factors. You have to consider the weather and on that basis, make split second decisions on what route to take. If you guess right, you find your balloon. In all the years I worked that circuit, I only failed to get there before they laid it down, twice.
I don’t know, call me giddy from yesterday’s morning blitz on 2086 but I think we’re on to something here and it’s going to work in my lifetime.
Living in hope,