3/7/13

Backyard balloon

There is a large silver balloon in my neighbor's backyard. Not just any random, shiny, mylar balloon either, but a number five.

Now balloons are not an uncommon sight - they seem to fly in from somewhere else on a regular basis - maybe 2 or 3 a year. Often they get stuck in the upper branches of a tree. Sometimes they reach the ground, where a little gust can put them aloft again briefly, so that their journey is not ended, but continues in fits and starts.

We're told that "dead" balloons that reach the ocean can spell death to sea life - turtles, fish and birds mistake them for prey and they suffer when the balloon chokes off their throat or their intestine. And then there is the environmental aspect of the helium - it is extracted from the earth with natural gas, and is in limited supply. And whether they are made from synthetic rubber or mylar plastic, one has to wonder if this is how we want to be using our planet's resources.

Momentary joy on a child's face when given a balloon can quickly turn to sadness when it's string escapes the grip and the balloon launches toward the stratosphere. Is it worth it? There are other, less destructive ways to put a smile on someone's face. A bouquet of hand-picked flowers, a hand-made greeting card, a hug, or even just showing a smile can elicit a smile.

I don't know. Some might accuse me of being "grumpy cat" on this relatively inconsequential matter. I just long for a clean and sustainable planet that will be here for many more generations. From my point of view balloons don't cut it.

There is a number 5 balloon in my neighbor's backyard, and it's irritating the heck out of me.

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