Monday, July 4, 2011

A very happy birthday for the whales!

We found quite the collection of Happy Birthday Whales dangling from one of the fences. As I have mentioned before, the number one type of trash we find on our isolated ranch is not beer cans or fast food garbage littering our dead end road, it is these mylar balloons - floating from some far away place before they fall back to earth and spend the rest of their deflated lives clinging to trees and fences.


There were four balloons in this collection: happy birthday, bandaid smiley face, all black and all blue. Maybe some hurried, over-worked  mother purchased these balloons for her son's birthday party and didn't even notice that the smiley face was completely covered in bandaids. In my head though, these were a gift to a little boy who had spent many months in the hospital for treatment of a chronic illness. This was yet another year where he spent his birthday in one of those cold, sterile rooms (but it is the children's ward after all so there are some posters on the walls and glow in the dark stars above the bed) and his mom or maybe a well-intentioned grannie brought him some balloons to cheer him up. Mom also brought along some video games for her bed-ridden child because staring at tethered balloons all day just reminds the boy of how he is tied down as well with all these IVs and tubes. A few days later, the boy is discharged and his mother pushes the wheelchair down the long corridors, the slightly deflated balloons bobbing along behind. When the automatic doors open and the boy feels the rush of non-circulated air hit his face he is so overwhelmed that he releases his grasp on the ribbons and the balloons slowly ascend - the movie cliche that signifies the freedom that the boy feels to be able to go home and live his life as a normal child.


Realistically though, there are only so many cancer-ridden children that lose track of their balloons and once the balloons float out of sight, the owner never thinks of it again. I think about them though. Chances are, unless you work in a balloon shop, I probably think about them more than the majority of the general public. I am the one cutting balloons out of fences, picking them out of rocks and extracting them from trees - demonstrating the sad fate of well-intentioned, under-appreciated gifts. When the time comes to decorate for a party or bring a get well gift to a friend, consider a potted plant - it is much easier to keep track of than a balloon and even if it is not appreciated, at least it is compostable :)

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