Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The magic balloon

This morning I took River on a walk. I’ve been slacking off a bit lately on our daily walks, so I decided to make up for it by doing an extra long one, almost two hours long.

We were about an hour into it. River was starting to fuss and I was wondering whether I needed to take the shorter way home. Then, up ahead, I saw the most magical thing – a blue foil balloon attached to a gate.

OK, it wasn’t the most magical thing. The leaves floating on the slow-moving water were great, as were the orange, red and yellow leaf carpets, the sweet smell of fresh leaves and dying plants and the bare, vulnerable branches. But as I mentioned yesterday, River is a big, big fan of balloons. For him, not much can beat a balloon.

The people who frequent this path seem to be an honest bunch. At the entrance, someone had rigged a branch into the crevice of a bench and from it, hung a keychain someone had dropped. I figured it might be the same case with the balloon. It was attached to the gate in plain sight so that its owner could retrieve it. But how could someone rescue a lost balloon that floats? Perhaps someone was done with it and left it on purpose.

Maybe I’m making too much of this, because at the time I saw it, I was listening to the Pray part of Eat, Pray, Love in which the author recounts her experience of transcendentalism. Just as I heard her recount how she found acceptance, bliss and peace, this magical blue foil balloon, in the shape of a star, appears out of nowhere. It was as though River’s nirvana had suddenly appeared in a burst of beautiful blue.

Figuring that even if it was lost, the owner was not likely to go through the woods to recover it, I decided that we could give it a new home. I tied it to the stroller. River grasped onto the string with both hands and fell asleep. When he awoke, he seemed contented to know the balloon was right there. All day today, he has been staring up the balloon, pulling the balloon’s string, touching the balloon, looking at his reflection in the balloon. He looks at it with wide, open, curious, trusting and infinitely happy eyes. I’ve never seen him so motivated to try to stand without support as when the balloon floats up to the ceiling and the string dangles tantalizingly above his head. It has made his day and will brighten his week. Heck, he’s still pointing at balloons we’ve had hanging on our wall since our first babysitter left in February. If this one lasts anywhere near as long, it will brighten his year.

For now, I also look up at the bright blue shiny star on our ceiling as a beautiful thing.

No comments: