A Red Balloon

Pine Hill is a dirt road. This is a drivable section of it. Its midsection is undrivable, which is not to say that some people don’t attempt to drive it, including new route drivers who haven’t learned their way around yet. If your GPS tells you you can drive from one end of Pine Hill Road to the other, it’s lying.

Yesterday morning, walking down Pine Hill with Tam, I spotted something bright red way up ahead. Huh? It was too bright and too red to be natural — unless it was a mushroom? Not likely: It was too big, and besides, it hadn’t been there the day before.

It turned out to be a balloon. The balloon had a message written on it: I miss you more every day. Love you. It’s signed with a semi-legible first name but I’m leaving that out in case the sender lives on the Vineyard. Word gets around, and that message was not meant for me.

Tam and I were heading out so I left the balloon where it was. This morning we were doing the same route in the opposite direction, so I brought it home.

It wasn’t trash exactly, but it didn’t belong where it was.

I’ve found balloons with messages on or attached to them before, but the last time must have been almost 30 years ago. They were mostly school projects: the sender’s name and address would be included, so you could respond with where and when the balloon was found. These were occasionally reported in the Vineyard papers.

Since then the release of balloons into the wild has been discouraged for environmental reasons. I assumed this was why I’d seen so few of them — until I got home, balloon in hand, and showed it to my next-door neighbor. She’d seen it on her walk yesterday and left it where it was for the same reason I had: she was heading in the wrong direction. I said it was the first message balloon I’d seen in many, many years. She said she saw them all the time on the beach.

My neighbor is a regular beachgoer. I’m not. Here I was thinking that we had all become more environmentally conscious, but it turns out I’m just walking in the wrong places.

The balloon is now tied by its ribbon to my deck railing. It’ll wind up in the trash eventually, but not just yet.

Red balloon, upside down. If anyone knows what the “192” might signify, let me know!

About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has been preoccupied with electoral politics since 2016. She just started a blog about her vintage T-shirt collection: "The T-Shirt Chronicles." Her other blogs include "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories," about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard, and "Write Through It," about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
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