On a cold November evening, Figaro and I went up on a cold-air balloon to see fish! Yep, I meant every single word I said in that sentence. There’s an awesome type of balloon called “cold-air” that is powered by ice crystals found inside Punny Garden clouds! The day I sketched this drawing, Figaro and I borrowed one such balloon from Figaro’s brother to take part in the flying-fish migration season.
After Fig started the balloon’s generator, we set off with a whoosh and bang! As the cold-air balloon started making its way up through dense clouds, the little lights on it started to make gentle wind chime noises and glow blue.
It had soon been fifteen minutes since we started ascending. I peered outside the balloon, letting my head dangle outside (to Fig’s slight worry). “There aren’t any fish yet… Are you sure there are fish here?”
Fig took a binocular out of his pocket and scanned the area. “Yeah, I’m sure.”
“Can I see?” I asked him, reaching for the binoculars.
“Oh, I didn’t see anything besides clouds,” he replied. “I was just staring into the sun.”
We began to float so high that the mountain we took off from became a tiny little red speck amidst the other tiny specks that made up Punny Garden. The air suddenly got colder, making me shiver a bit.
“There!” Figaro exclaimed, pointing somewhere to the left. “There’s a red one!”
I quickly turned around, and sure enough, there was a tiny red fish (about the size of half my palm) doing a funny wiggly movement inside the clouds. When he saw us, he quickly made a beeline straight for Figaro’s bag of fish food.
Fig gave the fish a bit of grain from his hand and petted him while he ate.
I stared with my mouth open in awe as the fish seemed to chew the food like a dog chews on sticky peanut butter. “You can pet the fish??”
“Of course,” Figaro said, smiling. “Didn’t you know that fish like being pet? Especially behind the fins.”
Just then, a HUGE shadow passed over our balloon! Fig and I looked up in AWE to see a huge herd of about ten vibrant, primary-colored fish soaring over our heads. As if it detected the fish, our balloon glowed an even brighter blue! This caused the fish to gracefully circle around us a few times in a motion that looked mesmerizing and relaxing. Some fish stopped to take food from Figaro’s bag before rejoining the group.
One big yellow fish stared at me from about a few inches away with a curious look on her face. Trying not to scare her away, I gently said “hi!” and extended my hand towards her scales. As soon as I made contact with the fish, her scales suddenly lit up and dimmed again as if powered by neon lights! Then, the lights seemed to pass on to the other fish, as they also lit up and dimmed soon after. None of them were alarmed, though, as they continued to calmly circle us.
“WHOA!” Fig was totally shocked, so much that he almost dropped the fish food. “What just happened?”
“That doesn’t normally happen?” I asked, still patting the yellow fish on her side. “I petted this fish here once, and they all lit up.”
“No, that normally doesn’t happen,” Fig pondered curiously. “That’s something totally new to me, at least.”
Anyway, we had a great time seeing and feeding the flying fish that night! I didn’t get to pet any more because they didn’t get close enough, but it was still a magical experience to make contact with one for the first time. As for why they started glowing when I pet one… that’s still a mystery, to be saved for another story!