Sunday, while gladly changing the channel away from a miserable Cowboy-Eagles game (that is if you’re a Cow-boys fan), I heard a loud scraping sound coming from the back yard. It was a sound similar to that of a heavy piece of metal being dragged across concrete. It is something you don’t hear everyday…

I thought nothing of it at first. It was only when the second and third scrapes happened, each one sounding closer than the one previous, did I figure I’d better get my big ol’ lazy butt up off the couch and see what was going on. That’s something that doesn’t happen everyday….

Over my backyard was a really s-l-o-w moving hot air balloon. The scraping sound was that of the pilot firing the burners to stay aloft and trying to catch a breeze, any breeze.

The winds had suddenly become calm, and the sun was setting. The balloon still had 1 mile to fly if it were to make the open soccer fields or the lakeside airstrip by the marina, and a whole lot of telephone poles and electric lines to stay above. This was a landing that needed to happen right then and there.

The balloon barely cleared the rooftop. She was coming down, ready or not…for those in the balloon basket, and those waiting for her on the ground.

Don’t you know I grabbed my trusty Canon and took off running towards the landing spot two doors down from my house. I kept thinking “balloons yes, but odd, semi-emergency landings is something that doesn’t get photographed everyday, I don’t think”….

The lady pilot did a remarkable job. She hovered over the neighbor’s yard as those folks came out of their house. She calmly greeted them and stated she was going to land in their front yard. And then she asked politely if they would grab hold of the basket as soon as she touched down so it wouldn’t bounce or scoot across the yard and into them durn trees.

Impressively, she dropped the balloon down in the front yard and in between 3 mature oak trees. A feat made even more remarkable when you realized, as they moved the balloon from the yard to the street and then deflated and folded the thing for transport, the margin of error for that landing was very, very slim to avoid personal injury or expensive damage to the balloon.

It was certainly a sight to watch and behold…something that doesn’t get witnessed everyday….

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Another thing this landing did was bring the neighbors out of their houses. It also brought curious folks on foot, bicycle, and car from a much further distance. We all talked and laughed and joked; we asked new friends where they lived; we asked old friends how the kids were doing; we asked each other who that person was while discreetly pointing to an unfamiliar face.

Isn’t it odd the events that cause a “Meet and Greet” of your neighbors these days…one of a magnitude greater than that found on Facebook any old day. We all know too well that talking in person to your neighbors doesn’t happen on its own everyday….

But when it does happen, for whatever reason, we all end up saying “we should get together and do this more often”. Agreed! (But we all have to bring our own hot air balloon)

So with this unusual event, we all agreed to plan a block party. If it happens, it will probably be organized via Facebook don’t you know.

In the meantime, the lady balloonist and the ground crew of Breeze Balloons, and all the Hickory Creek residents that helped fold up, tuck up, and load up a deflated hot air balloon and basket in the middle of our subdivision were blessed with an early ‘Trick Or Treat’.

As a parting gesture, the lady pilot walked around the gathered crowd greeting, joking, and thanking us all for helping out. She also took advantage of a great entrepreneurial opportunity by passing out business cards to everyone (they sell balloon rides, but probably not always as exciting as this one). Appropriately, on the back of her card, it read:

The Balloonist’s Prayer

The winds have welcomed you with softness.
The Sun had blessed you with its warm hands.
You have flown so high and so well,
that God has joined in your laughter
and set you gently back
into the loving arms of Mother Earth

Ya think the balloonist and crew were reciting this prayer last Sunday around 6:30 in the evening, while stationary over the roof and tree tops of our subdivision?

I bet that prayer happens more often than you might think…it certainly worked this time out.

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