Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Floating over the fields

We celebrated our 50th anniversary with a hot air balloon ride, something we’ve always wanted to do. We were not disappointed.
I remember another 50th celebration—my birthday some years ago. I wanted it to be memorable, so Hal and I took time off from work, went to Magic Mountain, and spent the day riding roller-coasters. A beast appropriately named “The Viper” made an especially thrilling impression.
Two very different rides. Our anniversary beast was named “Ridge Runner,” and he gave us a more gently thrilling ride. We floated rather than raced. But what a visual feast!
A typical cloudy Oregon day, we couldn’t see the far peaks—Hood, Saint Helens, or Rainier—but the Chelalem range circled the Willamette Valley farmland, with narrow forrest groves snaking across the planted fields. I thought of lines from Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “Pied Beauty”: “Glory be to God for dappled things…. landscapes plotted and pieced—fold, fallow and plow….”

Because of a lack of winds, we drifted very slowly, with a lot of up-and-down trips, almost touching the fields at times, up above the forested hills at other times. The Willamette River meandered in the distance.
Part of the grace of this ride was that it was a gift from our kids. David met us at the air field before the flight so he could see us off, take photos, and meet us again wherever we landed. Along with all of us, he helped the crew in getting the balloon ready for flight.
And then, when we passengers were in the basket, ready for take-off, the assistant said to David, “Hop in.”
“Oh, no,” David replied. “I’m not a passenger. I’m here to see my parents off.”
The assistant merely repeated his command, “Hop in.
We all looked at each other, grinned, and David hopped in.
       Grace upon grace.

                                             Ready to go!

Happy Anniversary!