The only things missing were the balloons. For the last two weekends I've been comfortably ensconced in the Adirondack chair at 08:15, sunglasses on, camera, coffee, and crossword ready to hand, just waiting for a little floating poetry to drift by. It never did.
I'm not an avid enough spotter to go out of my way to find hot-air balloons, but usually during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, which just wrapped up today, I don't have to. Some of the gathering's 500+ balloons typically come this direction and sail past within hailing distance; this year was apparently the exception. Contrary winds were possibly the culprits, winds being contrary by nature, although the Albuquerque box effect often overrides them. When the box is working, winds closer to the ground blow from the north, while at higher altitudes they blow from the south. Pilots can choose either direction by moving vertically, changing from a lower to a higher plane. Since I live south of Balloon Fiesta Park, wind direction doesn't usually keep the balloons away like this. Ah, well. Maybe next year.
The closest I came to seeing a balloon was this:
The tomatillos in the microgarden are producing enthusiastically these days—producing, but not ripening. Even the largest and roundest husks are as full of air as any balloon. The tomatillos wait to set on until the weather cools down, which happened unusually late this year. Now the pressure's on them to fill out those husks in the few weeks remaining before frost. Their performance so far hasn't earned them a place in the microgarden again next summer; they've just been wasting water and prime real estate. The clock is ticking on them in more ways than one.
One of my friends likes to start knitting projects. Eventually something else claims her time, so she unravels her work and winds the yarn into a tidy ball, and then the next time she has a chance to knit she starts all over again. Her philosophy is that a ball of yarn is easier to store than half a sweater, and even if she never finishes a project, she's enjoyed the time she's spent knitting, and enjoyment is really the point. The doing is the fun part; getting anything wearable out of it is a bonus, a happy accident. She has been cheerfully knitting for years, and so far as I know is still working on that same ball of yarn.
Her approach is admirable in many ways (to those who don't need or want scarves, sweaters, and woolly mittens)—really on a higher plane than a tit-for-tat, "if I put something in I want to get something out" mentality. The journey is more important than the destination, and all that. I get the sense that most of us take a similar approach to gardening, at least to some degree. Overall I do, too, but not so much where edibles are concerned. If I plant an edible, I really do want something to eat by summer's end. Or at least, someone should get something to eat, and that someone had better be more interesting than an aphid. As I wrote a couple of posts ago, the amaranth may not have fed me this summer, but it's fed all kinds of other things, from katydids to goldfinches, and has been more than worth the resources it took to grow. But the tomatillos? Even the bees aren't that enthused.
On the other hand, their shy blossoms really are endearing, and their leaves beautifully sculpted. The papery husks are fascinating to watch grow. When they get big and round you feel like you could blow on one, just a gentle puff of air, and send it soaring like a balloon. (Whereas actually, you can't.) (That is, you can blow on it all you like, but it's not going to go anywhere.) But those rangy, gangly plants are nothing I would give garden room to if I weren't expecting an actual tomatillo to eat at some point. A big crock of chili verde is calling me, and I cannot answer, because of those slowpoke tomatillos.
I clearly need to put some gardener's version of the Box Effect into practice, move up to a higher plane, and change mental directions. After all, I fully enjoyed the mornings on the patio with camera, coffee, and crossword (and sunglasses—very important), balloons or no. They would have been icing on the cake, but weren't necessary to my happiness. Why not enjoy those
Ah, well—maybe next year.