In yesterday’s blog, I referred to a ceremony that master balloonist, Fergie invited us to attend. We repaired to the motor home, changed clothes and washed up a bit and then found out we were the foil of this little ceremony, not the observers. Fergie is, without a doubt, a genuine character. First he recited the balloonists prayer while everyone doffed their hats.
The winds have welcomed you with softness.
The sun has blessed you with his warm hands.
You have flown so high and so well
that God joined you in laughter
and set you gently back into
the loving arms of Mother Earth.
While we were at attention, we were given a cup of champagne. And, we were not alone. Lynn and Jim to our right, were also part of the plot. I thought they were regular crew members. I found out they were part of the veterans motorcycle motorcade from the Freedom Ride, and got invited to fly as we were.
Fergie uses stuffed animals to explain the history of ballooning during this induction ceremony for newbies. We gathered from the heckling of the crew during his speech, he is required to fit every stuffed animal given to him (by them) into the history. No mean feat. Technically, I have ridden in a balloon, but it was a fly-by compared to this experience and I gladly submitted to induction. We started out as turkeys or virgins, take your pick. About three weeks back we visited the ABQ Ballooning Museum and learned about the rich Frenchmen who made the first balloon inspired by a house fire that caused objects to rise high into the air. In Fergie’s version, it was the Parisians ogling of French women whose skirts rose when stepping over a heated vent that inspired the brothers in 1783.
“We’re drinkin’ and drinkin’ and thinkin’ of drinkin'” (This from the crew.)
And, so the convoluted history continued from the original sheep, duck, and cock proving air was breathable high off the ground. The King of France wanted to sacrifice a prisoner to try the balloon. The brother’s didn’t want a prisoner to be the first person to fly. He was released instead. In Fergie’s version the prisoner was the first prisoner to participate in the “early release program.” And the crews dirty underwear was used to fire the balloon instead of rotting meat, old shoes, straw and manure. “We’re drinkin and drinkin…”
Fergie, part preacher, actor, comedian, and all around good guy, getting high on flying and fun. “We are drinkin’ and drinkin’ and thinkin’ about drinkin’ is an essential part of the ceremony.
We kind of learned why his Balloon was named Itsa Touchie Subject, again by some off comments from the crew about “…burning fabric…” and “…a big hole in the balloon” and from event officials, “why doesn’t your balloon have a name?
At the end of the ceremony, we were pinned as genuine flyers.
Crew member, Patty, pinned Jim in the vicinity of his brain. Fergie pinned me over my heart. It was all in fun, and the crew enjoyed the celebration as much as we did.
So, hey, Fergie. What are you gonna to be when you grow up?
My second file of balloon pictures is available in the following link. It takes about two minutes for a full screen slideshow.
Yesterday, we outdid ourselves, putting in a nine-to-five, visiting four museums, jewelry stores, The Gallup Cultural Center, and the famous El Rancho Hotel. We leave for Window Rock this morning, so I’ll try and catch up with our last day in Gallup tomorrow morning.