On The Wing
We spent yesterday in the sky. No longer in Europe, not yet in the US, for 10 hours and 22 minutes we were nowhere in particular, with no choices to make and our loyalties untorn.
I usually claim to be scared of flying, but yesterday I realized that what really scares me is thinking about flying. Barring all imagined disasters, I’m actually quite happy once I’m in the sky. There’s no other way I’d get to see Greenland, always a splendid sight.
10 hours and 22 minutes to think about life, 38,109 feet in the air, -51 degrees outside, 68 mph headwind, 508 mph ground speed, thin air above and polka dot ice floes below, it’s not your average day.
While in the sky I remembered how amazed I was the first time I flew, child of the San Francisco fog that I was, to learn that the sun is still shining, above it all. That’s when I learned that it may be foggy in your own personal life at any given moment, but up there somewhere, the sun is still hard at work. It was a joyful revelation then, and it hasn’t worn off since.
The ice is beginning to melt for the summer, and I thought about how the day might soon come when polar bears will have to swim for their lives. The water is large, and the ice is getting smaller. That’s a different kind of revelation, a glimpse of a future that won’t be kind to the bears.
Up that high, where you can see the future just around the corner, you can almost see the natural curve of the Earth. But if you look closely there’s a straight line, something not normally found in nature. An ice road, the first of many I’d see, going from what looked like nowhere at all to another nowhere place. Destinations aren’t always obvious, that’s what our recent life has taught us.
Finally the ice yielded, to the wildest looking land imaginable. I don’t know where this was, possibly somewhere in the far north of Canada, but I know I don’t want to live there. There, that’s one less decision to make. This was the kind of beauty best admired from a great distance, lest it swallow you up entirely.
But this, now this is Montana. America at last. America the wild, untamed, savage land that it really is, away from the thin veneer of population and two hundred years of Western culture. The wild, wild west.
And then Utah, lightly tamed against a backdrop of wilderness.
Salty Utah, brine shrimp central, a fantastical moonscape of salt lagoons.
This is the wing that brought us here and set us down gently. This is where the wing brought us. Like migratory birds taking a breather, we’ve come aground in Salt Lake City. Where one thing is certain: we’re definitely not in France anymore.