This may seem odd, although that anything in today’s world would be perceived as odd anymore is hard to fathom, but the thing I find myself absolutely fixated on since the deadly Covid-19 uprooted all normalcy has been the absence of air traffic. Such a seemingly trivial thing to notice, and yet…
On any given day, the sky to the northeast in my rural valley is six-lanes of white streaks charting the paths of multiple jets, sun glinting off silver wings, carrying travelers to business meetings, honeymoons, into the arms of loved ones, or simply off for an adventure. Now, maybe once or twice a day, only a lone jet makes its way across my view persevering against the turbulence.
I imagine the passengers squeezing into the corners of their seats to make themselves small, a game of hide-and-seek with an invisible seeker. Their trepidation about what may be waiting for them or what they may be bringing to others weighing like extra baggage.
I had never taken much notice of those jet patterns or the growl of engines high above until the sky emptied and the silence set in. From my privileged perch high atop a mountain overlooking acres of hills where cows and horses roam in peace and red-tail hawks are beginning to teach their hatchlings to fly, I could almost ignore the crisis mode in which we find ourselves. For little here has yet to change. Maybe that’s why this absence of airplanes has caught my attention.
Today, I hear a jet passing above and I run outside to look. I feel a bit of the wonder early mankind must have felt seeing a star streak across the sky. But mostly, I feel a kinship. We are all that lone jet now, whether we have others to share our isolation or not. We are all travelers bound for unknown parts praying for a soft landing.
Growing up in that valley in the 1950s and ’60s, the only planes we saw were the ranchers’ piper cubs and Cessnas flying into or out of the local airstrip. I don’t remember ever seeing the trails of jets. What we did see was spectacular rocket launches from Vandenberg.
I like the idea of you being safe and sound on your mountain.
You are such a wonderful writer, my friend! Loved this so much. I also took a walk around my neighborhood last night around 8:30 and I didn’t see a single car. The frogs were singing and the stars were bright. I felt like I had returned to my childhood in the 1960’s!
Lovely, Jayne! Off to tweet…
Just hearing a plane go overhead now. Greetings from quiet London.