At the end of the whole ordeal, and once the lantern was finally floating away, I looked back at my girlfriend who was vigorously stomping a lit fire out of the grass. Believe it or not, that was a moment of pure relief. Things were finally under control. For the moment.
Moments before, and it all happened so fast, things got crazy in a hurry.
Now, before I tell the rest of the story, you should know that Noah was very anxious for this sky lantern. He was swinging it around in the air before we ever lit it, and one of its major seams split wide open. Dad fixed it as best he could with Scotch tape, but there were still all sorts of little holes for extra oxygen to get inside. I didn’t think that’d matter too much. I guess it did.
We took the patched-up lantern outside and with one hand I held it up high in the air (I’m a giant, so high in the air really is high in the air). With the other, I lit one of those giant barbecue lighters and began igniting the fuel soaked paper which was attached to the underside.
Had it all gone perfectly, the lantern would have slowly filled up with hot air and lifted off gracefully.
Instead it was slightly more akin to that rocket launch from a few weeks ago. You know the one…
Also… It turns out I was not quite as giant as I thought I was.
I did not have quite the arm span I thought I did.
And in a matter of seconds, I was desperately trying to keep all the loose sides of this lantern from catching fire. To envision this, picture a frantic ogre dancing the Nutcracker. That was me in that moment.
And then I got it under control. Or so I thought.
The lantern finally started rounding out. The sides began expanding. It took form. It became light in my hands. I barely had any arm hair singed off at all. And all it needed now was a gentle nudge toward outer space.
I pushed it into the air.
The wind caught it. Sigh.
And instead of lifting off, it started flying high-speed sideways, toward this small sapling tree.
It nailed the tree head-on.
Flames dripped onto the grass below as the lantern struggled to free itself.
I couldn’t care about that, though, because the wind caught it again before I could catch up to it.
Are you remembering the ogre? That’s important as you envision me chasing a half-floating flaming sky lantern around the community grass area of our home.