Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hot Air Balloons

That vague paisely-shaped shadow at the base of the street light is a hot air balloon descending over Manuka Oval.  Scene: Short-term parking bays outside Coles supermarket. Time: 8.30 am.  Temperature: 4 degrees Celcius.  Mission: The last-minute purchase of a few kilos of oranges and bag of jelly snakes for 'fruit' duty at soccer. 

This is one of the few things I love about Canberra, that you can spy hot air balloons in the most unlikely situations and when you least expect them.  I love it when an errant balloon lands in the paddock opposite my office window or sails past while I am on the phone conducting a serious discussion of national import (of course) with someone on the other side of the country, or when, like today, I am on a speedy trip to the shops.

We can see them from our breakfast bar too, looking out the glass doors over the rear deck.  The children are so used to seeing them now that they simply look up and make a casual, nasally announcement - 'hot air balloon" - as if they had just noticed something as inconsequential as a blow fly circling in the kitchen, and then carry on chomping their Weetbix.

"The labors of these hardy pioneers of science are now about to be knit together by the daring project of Dr. Samuel Ferguson, whose fine explorations our readers have frequently had the opportunity of appreciating.  
This intrepid discoverer proposes to traverse all Africa from east to west in a balloon. If we are well informed, the point of departure for this surprising journey is to be the island of Zanzibar, upon the eastern coast. As for the point of arrival, it is reserved for Providence alone to designate."

Five Weeks in a Balloon by Jules Verne.

Image: Early balloon designs 1818.  Wikipedia


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