I am far away from Lemuria at the moment, my feet weighted to the ground. I need to feel the air upon my face, the wind blowing through my hair, to access my creative muse again and to cast off this burden called Responsibility. To this end I have decided to fly by hot air balloon to Lemuria and have made the necessary arrangements. I am so excited both to be returning to Lemuria and to be taking off again.
I rise early in the morning for hot air balloons need to be alight and aloft before the winds wake up to their full potential. It’s so still and the sun hasn’t risen yet. It’s peaceful. Even the street dogs are still twitching in their dreams of long-lost bones. I make my way to the open space from where we’ll be taking off. The basket is still anchored to the ground with the ropes snaking over the ground towards the brightly coloured envelope (that’s what the silk part of the balloon is called). I am helped into the basket by the crew and the ground staff begin to blast the hot air into the envelope which slowly fills and the colours are revealed. Soon the balloon is fully inflated and the basket is bobbing in its excitement to be up and away. I hum snatches of the song “Up, up and away” under my breath.
The ropes are released and the balloon drifts slowly upwards and we’re off. Soon we’re high above the ground and I think that the animals I can see far below me in the field are rabbits. This impression is quickly corrected when I am reliably informed that they are in fact deer! Up here there is no way to judge one’s distance off the ground by eye alone. Apart from the song of the larks and the rush of the flames into the envelope we are surrounded by total silence. We are still climbing as there is a range of mountains over which we must fly. Far below me now I can see strange rock formations and note where the tree line has finished, revealing only stark brown rocks. I am in heaven….
I wasn’t the only one taking off this morning, others followed in my wake although heading to different destinations, each of them seeking something personal, something missing from their humdrum lives. As we turned to head over the mountains I looked behind me to see the other balloons.
We drift over a high mountain pool, the cloudless sky mirrored in its flat surface and gradually start our descent. I can see the abbey in the far distance, its honey coloured stonework rises gracefully at the edge of a small wood. Slowly the air is released from the balloon and we drift downwards. As we approach the ground helpers from the abbey run to meet us and chase after the ropes with which they will anchor us to the ground again. The basket bumps down on to the field. I have been expecting this and cling tightly to the edge of the basket, this is when limbs can get injured but today no one is hurt. I clamber out of the basket and bid farewell to the crew who will be resting at the abbey until they can take off again at dusk.
As we pass through the arch into the abbey I can see the abbess making her way down the path to greet me and whisk me off into the kitchens where I’ll be given something delicious to drink which will wipe away my worldly cares and my new adventures will begin.