We waited in the pre-dawn chill for the balloons to wake from their seeming slumber in the field.
They lifted into the sky, exhaling with fiery roars across the horizon.
Awhile more we sat, contemplating the treeline, scanning the blue for colorful dots that would become larger, sailing toward us and looming above us, carried on the wind.
Our heads tilted to the Iowa skies; we smiled again and again.
Joe and I decided on a whim last night that if Emmett woke up in the wee hours, we’d brew some coffee and set out for the morning launch at the National Balloon Classic in Indianola. Sure enough, he was up at 4 a.m., so we put on our layers. It was magical to watch the sun and balloons rise. There was a commentator who would talk a little bit about the balloons and announce them as they came by. Three launched from the field, and about 30 teams came in from the NW, competing to drop bags on crop-circle-like targets on our field. It was fun to cheer them on.
Afterwards, we had the breakfast buffet at Crouse Cafe, where we beat the morning rush by a few minutes. The balloon festival is an annual event, and it continues through Aug. 3 this year, with launches at 6:30 a.m./p.m. and balloon glows some evenings. This was our first time; I hope we make it a family tradition.