I joined my neighbor for our Tuesday walk on this milder-than-usual
50-degree autumn morning, he asked how my weekend at the Taos
Hot-Air Balloon Fiesta had been. I was happy to report that it
had been just fine.
Each year some of
the organizers of the huge Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta gather
in Taos a couple of weeks later for a little R&R.
They go up in their
balloons at 8 oclock on both Saturday and Sunday morning,
ride around a little while, then come down and party the rest
of the day, instead of working their buns off like they have
to do at the big Albuquerque event. Its a good way to
At our condo in Taos,
my wife Linda and I have established the custom of holding an
open house both days, and inviting any friends who can make
it to drop by for good food, good drink and good times. We encourage
them to get there in time for the 8 oclock liftoff, but
that often depends on how much partying they did the previous
I like the scale
of the Taos balloon event. It reminds me of the old days in
Albuquerque, when the fiesta down there was still small enough
to be held at the state fairgrounds. Now the Albuquerque balloonfestwhich
bills itself as the most photographed event on Earthis
way too big for my taste, and parking can be a nightmare.
But Taos is just
the right size. Parking is easy, the spectators get right up
close to the balloons, food stands sell coffee and breakfast
burritos, other stands sell commemorative pins, sweatshirts,
T-shirts and baseball caps, and fun is had by all. About the
only thing that was a slight disappointment was, surprisingly,
the early morning mass ascension of the balloons.
It was a colorful occasion and all, but the air was so warm
and so perfectly still that the balloons went straight up in
the air and just hung there.
After a while my
group headed back to the condo for a full day of partying down
and taking it easy. Some of us played tennis, others played
golf, others watched ball games on TV, and others just enjoyed
visiting with their friends. I tried my hand at tennis, but
after getting clobbered in a doubles match, I slipped off to
downtown Taos to see what was going on there. I checked out
a little arcade that has some interesting stores, and then I
just sat down on a bench to rest and watch the world go by.
Pretty soon up came
a young fellow leading a black dog on a leash. On top of the
dog stood a cat, swaying back and forth and working hard to
keep its balance as the dog walked along. But that wasn't all.
On top of the cat was a white mouse running around on the cat's
back. Well, needless to say, I was impressed, and as the unusual
trio of animals walked by, I called out to their owner "That's
unreal." He turned back to me and said, "No, people
are unreal." Then they passed on by.
I sat and thought
about what the fellow said, which at first struck me as a smart-aleck
remark. But then I came to realize that his comment did make
sense, especially after the events of September 11, 2001. Somehow
that young man had taught his dog, his cat and his mousewho
generally are considered natural enemieshow to get along
just fine. If only all the people who consider themselves natural
enemies could figure out the same thing, the world would be
a far better place.
Have a good day.