Despite the noise, I drifted at the edge of sleep, lost to the delicious kind of slumber one only gets on quiet weekend mornings. Then it came again, that hateful noise, this time louder and more insistent: WHOOOOOOSH!!
Little human footsteps went pitter-pattern down the hallway, past our bedroom door. I heard the front door open and slam shut. Children's voices were excitedly discussing the source of the WHOOOOOSH, even inviting the WHOOOOOSH to come closer.
I shot upright in bed, finally placing the whoooshing sound. It was a hot air balloon, and it sounded close!
Living in the heart of Northern California's beautiful wine country makes for many interesting experiences. Every spring and summer, dozens of hot air balloons drift over our farm during the still early morning hours, taking excited sightseers on undoubtedly spectacular adventures over the vineyards. The horses are used to seeing the colorful orbs dangling high in the sky. Occasionally, a balloon will even land at a neighboring farm (with permission, of course). But low-flying hot air balloons are a source of concern for horse owners at times because they can incite fence-crashing panic among equines.
Sure enough, just outside our bedroom window, in the vineyard next to the horse pasture, a hot air balloon hung nervously, too still, just 10 feet above the vines. The pilot was busily sending flames up into his balloon, trying to make it rise, hence the sleep-shattering whooshing sound.
I ran outside, half dressed, camera in hand. The horses stood, frozen, watching the balloon:
In the end, the balloon's WHOOOOOSHING paid off, and it rose rapidly into the sky and drifted southeast, no doubt toward a waiting "chase" vehicle and the end of an exciting ride for its occupants. The horses went back to their business, the adventure over, and Argus and I both headed back for the last bit of Sunday morning sleep.