Thursday, February 23, 2006

Of Balloons and Dragons

During their annual midwinter migration, the nylon dragons returned to Bluff last week. As usual, these outrageously colorful beasts, and their equally colorful handlers, brought a sense of wonder to our tiny, high desert community. Every year during this event, "Puff the Magic Dragon," the Peter, Paul and Mary song from the 1960s, finds its way into my head and cannot be dislodged. When the beasts and their caregivers arrive, I feel a sense of youthful wonder descend upon me, taking me back to a simpler time.

Balloons flying over Twin Rocks Trading Post and Cafe.

Arguably, Puff is associated with the loss of childhood innocence. It is often said by those close to me that my innocence has slipped away; leaving only a childlike mentality. I hope that is not an altogether bad thing. With that thought and the words of the song in my mind, I watched the dragons ascend and descend among the red rocks. Predawn would find those managing the fire breathers huddled in the Bluff community center telling bad jokes and discussing wind speed, manageable loads, unmanageable loads and escaping gases. The atmosphere was always jovial; packed with excitement and expectation. There is nothing more fun than riding one of these dragons.

As daylight broke across the eastern horizon, the beasts were released from their containers and reanimated. They flexed their cramped muscles and puffed up in anticipation of flight. Fire erupted across the valley as throats coughed and stuffy passages cleared. Willing the gargantuan, billowing creatures to remain earthbound long enough to be harnessed, the handlers strained at the restraints. Small, carefully selected groups were allowed onboard to witness a sky view of our tiny village and surrounding areas. With mighty roars, the fire breathers belched flame and gracefully ascended, like miniature sunrises soaring into the heavens. As a new day reflected off their magnificent scales, the dragons painted the morning with glorious color.

The community of dragon masters bring to Bluff a spontaneous and fun-loving outlook on life. Their attitude is contagious, and it spreads among the local inhabitants in a plume of healing emotion. Like the visit of a carefree and uninhibited group of relatives, the balloon pilots and crew bring with them a freshness and stress-relieving presence that uplifts our spirits and allows us to soar. The dragons bring magic and a sense of wider perspectives.

Flying high above the space we regularly inhabit provides a vantage point that is totally distinct from our general outlook. Like the raucous ravens that soar on the thermals over our traditionally hard heads, from the belly of the beasts, we have an outlook much different from our usual ground level view. The dragons lift us to new heights, and give us fresh outlooks that help expand our understanding of who we are and where we originated. Bluff is a special place. When you live here, however, you must get out of town from time to time to understand the wider world. During the Balloon Festival, the outside world comes to us. What a deal!

To me, relationships are one of the most treasured aspects of life. These hot air dragons and their handlers have a magical way of bringing people together. When Dragon Masters, Bluffoons and visitors gather, strong bonds are formed. I realize dragons have their place, and cannot be a part of our everyday life. When those rascals break free of their dens and visit us on Mulberry Lane, however, everyone has an opportunity to frolic in Bluff's winter mist and revisit the days of innocence and magic.

With Warm Regards,
Barry, Steve and the Team.

Copyright 2006 Twin Rocks Trading Post

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