Past Iberville, the wind carried me northeast toward Mont-Saint-Grégoire, a small town built around the foot of the rocky, wooded knob rising a thousand feet from the flat river valley. The countryside was pretty and green, which I guess is the upside of having plenty of rain.



I was moving along at a pretty good clip. Many of the hot-air balloons had dropped down low, where the wind was a little slower; I stayed a bit higher, hoping it would help Ernie, Marj and Jacques keep me in sight.




The farm fields here were long and rectangular, dating back to the original land grants to early French settlers. At the time, the farms along the river had been laid out in these narrow strips to give each farmer a narrow piece of the river shore, a pattern carried on across the valley.




Deborah Slahta


I flew on past Mont-Saint-Grégoire. Balloons were starting to land as the shadows grew long.



A few miles farther east was the little town of Sainte-Brigide. As I flew past, the crew in my truck finally caught up with me, although on a road perpendicular to my current track. I directed them to drive past, then turn left onto a road that would parallel my direction. I dropped in lower over farms fields. I was still moving at a pretty good clip, but coming in over some alfalfa, I let my feet drag, which slowed me down some, and then I cut away five or six balloons and dug in my feet, which stopped me. I hopped over to the edge of the field, where there was a bit of a dirt track into the field. Meanwhile, the crew were asking permission at the farm house to drive in to get me, and a few minutes later they were there, just as the sun was setting.



Marjorie Walters


Marjorie Walters


By the last light, Jacques and some of the volunteers who had come out to help got into my harness and floated on the evening wind with my balloons. "Holy s***, " said Jacques, grinning, and I had to agree. Holy s*** I was happy that my week of waiting had ended with this lovely afternoon.



Then we put away the balloons and packed up the truck. The skies had only the lightest feathering of clouds as we drove back through the darkened countryside to the lights of the festival in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.


Marjorie Walters



Crew Chief: Ernie Hartt

Principal Crew: Jacques Côté, Marjorie Walters.

Special Thanks to: Internationale de Montgolefieres de Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Marie-Claude Gagné, André Charpentier, inflation crew volunteers.

Photography: Marjorie Walters, Adam Leota, Deborah Slahta, Marie-Claude Gagné, Stéphanie Lachance, Jean-Pierre Bonin, Nicole Côté, Dawn Ann Chase, Dean Carlton, Nancy Perron, Pierre Gariépy, John Ninomiya










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