One woman's blessings of ballooning

(Deb will be one of the balloon pilots at the balloon festival this weekend. She’s been coming to Mancos for many years.)

As I opened the purple satin scrapbook, the memories came flooding back, along with smiles, grins, and out loud laughter.

It was cold outside, and I had just returned from an out of town balloon rally. The first stages of “spring cleaning” were attacking my psyche, and my office seemed like the perfect place. The excavation started with the piles of books, magazines and what-not located on the closet shelf.

That purple scrapbook was made and given to me by the Grand Junction faction of my Colorado ballon crew. Eight years ago, three women who had grown up together turned 50 and decided to do something “crazy” to celebrate.They got together and sponsored a balloon in a regional rally near where they all lived. I was their pilot. Little did I know at the time just how eventful this rally would be for all of us. You see, it’s often the most seemingly insignificant actions that force life into perspective, and reality into blessings.

Over the years, the crew has grown, as the original three kept inviting their friends. Each year starts with the rally in Bluff, Utah, and each year our friendship becomes richer. I used to worry about going to out-of-town rallies and not taking any crew with me, but not anymore. Everywhere I go to have a fun flying weekend; the Colorado Crew is there. We teach each other, we cook from our tailgates, laugh and help each other through life.

But, back to the scrapbook — When my first balloon, Painted Angel, failed her annual in June 2006, I didn’t know what was next, but I did know I had to tell my Colorado Crew. Sadly, I sent the word. As the summer turned to fall, a new balloon had been designed and was being made. Ms. Paint, a lovely new Cameron 90, made her debut at the 2006 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, and what a debut it was. We made the calendar! The next time the Colorado Crew and I were together, they gave me a scrapbook. It was Painted Angel’s scrapbook, full of photos, memories and stories of the time we had spent together. That’s when it struck me — these folks, the Colorado Crew, were as in love with this sport as I was and we truly had long ago bonded as lifelong friends.

The scrapbook ends with a handmade birthday card for Ms. Paint: “To Those That Can Dream, There Is No Such Place As Faraway……”

That’s what I call unexpected blessings, and I thank God for them each and every day.