The sky over the wetlands is a hard, cold gray. The last pitted apples on the tree outside our door are hanging stubborn for now. It’s mouse season, and last night I woke up to the sound of insulation being gnawed in the kneeling space beside our bed. In a few more months the full Snow Moon will shine above our heads when my husband and I go out for our late evening walk.
We’ve lit a fire in the woodstove this afternoon more out of ceremony than necessity, and when the flames begin to wilt neither one of us moves to feed them. I have poems to write and reading assignments to conquer, but an unfamiliar sound—like the release of tractor-trailer breaks—disrupts my concentration.
“What’s that?” we both wonder aloud in and unison, as two gargantuan shadows fall across the lawn. We rush to the front porch and are treated to a surreal scene: Two hot-air balloons have floated out of the mist, and are rising like circus tents before our eyes. Their ascension is punctuated by Darth Vader-like exhales, and our little hamlet suddenly feels alive with excitement. We wave and shout to the people in the baskets. Their giddiness and sense of wonderment is contagious. And so we go: me in the driver’s seat and Ber riding shotgun, snapping away on his iPhone.
“Are you going to the lake?” We holler into air. The wayfarers can hear us clear as a bell, and gesture for us to follow them north. But the country roads can’t take us where they are going. We simply pull over and watch and wait as they disappear over a stand of pines, full of exhilaration and a little less earthbound for the encounter.