A Chinese “weather balloon” passed through the sky over Union County last Friday evening. I’m guessing the folks in China spend a lot of their time worrying about the weather in Southern Illinois.

Look...up in the sky...

Please read this...

Late last Sunday morning, Bob and I were sitting out on the front stoop, enjoying the warm sunshine, which was quite welcome after our recent rounds of snow, sleet, ice and cold. 

The promise of spring could be seen on both sides of the stoop: green leaves popping up through a layer of unraked leaves from last fall. 

While pondering what we hope is the imminent arrival of spring, which, I know, isn’t until March 20, I heard an unusual sound from above. The sound suggested that a jet aircraft was somewhere overhead.

That’s odd, Bob said. I agreed. We don’t often have jet aircraft flying overhead in Southern Illinois. Sure, it happens. Just not very often. 

A moment or two later, I looked up and spotted a small, twin-engine aircraft heading south through the sky. Hmmmm, I thought. I’m guessing that’s actually a Chinese “weather balloon” disguised as a jet aircraft. 

And that bring us to the matter at hand...

Until this week, this space has never featured the words “force majeure.” In italics.

Until last Friday, I had never seen a Chinese “weather balloon” in the sky overhead.

Unless you’ve been taking a long winter’s nap, which would probably be a good way to spend the months of December, January and February, you probably heard about the Chinese “weather balloon” which flew across the country during the past week. The “weather balloon’s” journey came to a rather abrupt, and explosive end, over the Atlantic Ocean, just off our East Coast. But you already know that.

Friday evening, while watching the local news, mention was made that if one wanted to wander outside to bask in February’s chill, one might actually catch a glimpse of the “weather balloon.”

As noted, I had never seen a “weather balloon” of any kind floating overhead. A few years ago, we did watch the international space station pass overhead during a summer evening. As you might guess, the weather was much warmer for that experience.

With camera in hand, I headed outside. It’ didn’t take long to spot the “weather balloon,” which could be seen in a clear sky off to the northwest. The “weather balloon” was a bright dot of white light in the winter sky.

The Pentagon’s website explained that the object was “a high altitude surveillance balloon.” Yes, you can visit The Pentagon’s website.

You can also visit the website for the Foreign Ministry of the People’s Republic of China. Until Friday evening, I had never given any thought to the Foreign Ministry of the People’s Republic of China. It doesn’t come up much at any of the local government meetings that I frequent.

A Foreign Ministry “spokesperson” confirmed that the “airship is from China...It is a civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes. Affected by the Westerlies and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course. The Chinese side regrets the unintended entry of the airship into US airspace due to force majeure. The Chinese side will continue communicating with the US side and properly handle this unexpected situation caused by force majeure.

Force majeure? Couldn’t find that phrase in the 1965 dictionary which sits on a shelf in the “newsroom” at The Paragraph Factory collecting dust. 

The online version of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defined force majeure (which, by the way, is a noun) as a “superior or irresistible force” and “an event that cannot be reasonably anticipated or controlled,” which I suppose would explain a “weather balloon” flying over my house on a cold evening in February.

Well, enough about geopolitics...let’s move on to something in the shameless plug department...

The Friends of Stinson Memorial Library District have announced plans for a winter book sale on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 10-12, at Stinson Memorial Library in Anna. 

A Friends appreciation sale is scheduled from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Friday. Those who are not members of the Friends of Stinson Memorial Library District can join at the sale for $5. A public sale is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. A bag sale is planned from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. A bag of books will cost $5. Bags will be provided.

If you like books, head out to the book sale. Maybe you can find a sweet deal for your sweetheart. After all, Valentine’s Day is right around the corner.

I’ll be looking for a book about “weather balloons.” I’m guessing that since I visited the website for the People’s Republic of China’s Foreign Ministry, after I had waved to the “weather balloon” when it sailed over our house last Friday evening, they’ll know where to find me...

The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158
Email: news@annanews.com

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