Photo by Gamaliel Masters
"I see'd the big balloon go over." Ten years ago I read that entry, thumbing yellow pages scribbled by a Wenham farmer. He never failed to note the weather, and, "sold hay", "wife went to town", "daughter down with fever". and on July the fourth he wrote, "I see'd the big balloon go over". What ailed the man? When others went to town to celebrate, wave flags, shoot rockets, he walked his field to check his corn. That year, next town to Boston, twenty miles south, a thousand people cheered the famous Chelsea launching. This farmer, as he closed his day, had only this small thing to say, "I see'd the big balloon go over." The temperature this noon is ninety-six, they're racing porcupines down town in Council. Beside my steps a cricket sings, above him, underneath the hot tin roof, young swallows pant and lean to breathe the air beyond their tight mud nest. Across the fields of ripened grass I note how blue the sky, and empty. This is July the fourth and I, unless I rouse to go to town, will not be writing near as much as he who said, "I see'd the big balloon go over."