Autumn is definitely upon us. Crisp mornings, turning leaves, scent of roasting chile from just about every parking lot. But there's something else about fall in New Mexico that is different from just about anywhere in the world: Balloons!
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is just a week away, but there's a good chance that you'll see hot air balloons aloft before then. It's doubtful that you'll see any taking off or landing from the Plaza, but once you leave the city limits, and possibly head south, you're almost guaranteed a peek at one of these dancers in the sky.
When I worked on the west mesa of Albuquerque, we had the best views in the city of the pink Sandias at sunset, with a carpet of lights at its foothills flickering on. In the fall, we were also treated to the best views of balloon flights, especially when one would founder on the ridge directly below us. It became common to arrive at work early with coffee, sit outside and watch the balloons stream overhead. We'd wave, and if we got a wave back from one of the tiny people in the basket, a cheer would go up.
Even if you've never had a chance to ride in a balloon, or can't make it to the mass ascension at the crack of dawn, it's worthwhile to spend the next few weeks looking towards the sky. You never know what might be floating overhead.
Photos courtesy of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.