Adventure in an Antique Mode

Hot Air Balloon

Adventure in an Antique Mode ©2012 Bo Mackison

Like a shamanistic language, flight speaks in different idioms. We can blast rockets to the stars. We can race across the sky on fixed wings. Ballooning appeals because it is more languorous and low-tech; it’s adventure in an antique mood. What a treat to stroll through the veils of twilight, to float across the sky like a slowly forming thought. Flying an airplane, one usually travels the shortest distance between two points. Balloonists can dawdle, lollygag, cast their fate to the wind and become part of the ebb and flow of nature, part of the sky itself, held aloft like any bird, leaf or spore. In that silent realm, far from the mischief and toil of society, all one hears is the urgent breathing of the wind and, now and then, an inspiring gasp of hot air.  ~ Diane Ackerman, ‘Traveling Light,’  New York Times, 11 January 1997.

There are so many phrases in this quote by Diane Ackerman. I want to just pick them out of their sentences and fling them about, see if, perhaps, they will soar as they have my mind soaring.

“stroll through the veils of twilight” – rather like the slowing down part of the day, the time when you sit in the comfy chair near the fireplace and rest your head on its high back, and close your eyes so that you can take a short mind-travel of the day’s events.

“float…like a slowly forming thought” – I have more and more of those. The kinds of thoughts that if I hurry along, force out into the open, well, they are lost forever. I need to nudge those thoughts forward a bit, those thoughts that linger on the edge of consciousness, and then I let them rest awhile. I pretend I am only vaguely interested, and move on to a project that is more busyness than business. More often than not, that elusive thought gradually moves closer, until it is close enough that I can see more than just the edges. I capture a glimpse of the idea. The glimpse is enough. A little more time and the glimpse becomes the thought I once wanted to capture. It has come to me of its own accord.

“become part of the ebb and flow of nature” – well, yes. That is often my intent. I am happiest trekking through the wilder lands than walking along a paved sidewalk or doing business in a building where I feel cut off from the natural world. But the next part speaks even more loudly to me.

“become…part of the sky itself, held aloft” – What would that feel like? The experience of flying, of soaring, or circling the earth below, all the world held at a distance while I took enough time to gather my thoughts. And being held aloft? On what? Gentle air currents, pockets of weightlessness, invisible threads held by unseen angels. Oh, sometimes it is fun to let my mind just take off, and I follow along to see where it will take me.

“far from the mischief and toil of society” – Yes, some days I do dream of escape, of tucking a heap of insulation around me and resting, far from the mischief and from society’s expectations. At one time in my life, I was a phenomenal mind-escape artist. I’ve learned it’s more advantageous, more acceptable too, to take only a bit of a time out – perhaps a walk around the pond – not a long escape, but I still find myself dreaming of the quiet.

“all one hears is the urgent breathing of the wind” – Yes, in the sky, I would expect to hear the urgent breathing of the wind. Here, land-bound, I seem to hear the urgent breathing of the earth. How does one calm the earth’s breathing, soothe its shuddering inhalations and exhalations? How does one help the earth slow its breathing, how does one touch the earth?


Bo Mackison is a photographer and the owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC.Occasionally, she veers off course and takes a look at the world through a somewhat poetic view.

This is my October Photo-Heart Connection contribution. When a photo (and the accompanying quote) move me to consider my place in the universe, it is a truly heart connection combination.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Beautiful photo-heart connection

  2. What an amazing post, love your thoughts and how you relate . . . and just for the record I love the word lollygag!

  3. This makes me long for a balloon ride! Beautiful image to go with the poetic descriptions.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      I always think I would like to go up in a balloon, until I think it over a few times. I may need to be satisfied with the balloon experience with my feet firmly on the ground. 🙂

  4. Balloon rides are magical, but I never expected or imagined the landing, which was bumpy and then the basket tipped over and dumped us out. Just like real life. Love the image and the aged look.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      I’d love to hear a balloon ride story from someone who has flown. Tipped over, hmm? Wow, just like real life…

  5. This is beautiful. Love the quote..and love your associations and interpretations of it. The image of the balloon and your processing evokes such fantasy!

  6. Kat Sloma says:

    Ah, so beautiful. I love, love, love the imagery in your phrase: I want to just pick them out of their sentences and fling them about. How wonderful! But you didn’t do that, you eased each phrase out and gently held it up to the light to see what it had for you. Each one a small meditation that resonated with me as well. A wonderful, wonderful Photo-Heart Connection this month.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      No, Kat, I suppose I did not fling them about. They were all flinging about in my head, but they all settled down properly and let me write out my thoughts. Never know when that is going to work out, but I sure enjoyed my mind travels with the hot air balloon.

  7. I loved the way you picked out the phrases by Diane Ackerman and to let them roll around inside of you to see how you connected to them!
    The image of the hot air balloon goes so well with your words!

  8. Very fun.

  9. A beautiful shot and what a collection of words! Yumminess. You provided some inspiration as well…I think I need to go play with my hot air balloon photos now!

  10. Beautiful image and I loved reading your words. So beautifully done.

  11. I keep going back and rereading the paragraph from Traveling Light. It is wonderful, and I love how you took pieces of it and examined them…a fusing you the authors thoughts and yours. Just wonderful.

  12. Love this image, Bo. The Ackerman quote is one of my faves, and I love the way you picked out phrases and soared with them. “..stroll through the veils of twilight” is a stand-out for me because that’s when we see the hot-air balloons here, and I’ve often thought about what it must be like to be in the air at that time of day, slowly floating along.

  13. It is a beautiful piece of writing, definitely. You’ve posted about lots of balloons, never gone up in one? Not sure I want to, but then again….

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