Friday, April 16, 2010

Painters of the sky

Why I look up
London, ON, March 2010

The scene: I'm dropping our two youngest off at school when I notice the contrails overhead. London isn't the world's largest town - with 350,000 people living here, we won't exactly be attracting endless lines of long-haul 747s to our airport - so it's clear these planes are just passing through. The best we can hope for at our own so-called international airport is turboprop commuter planes making the 45-minute hop to Toronto and Detroit, and 737s taking snowbound Canadians to luxurious resorts carved out of the coastlines of otherwise impoverished nations. But I digress.

The morning and evening ritual of a sky filled with the slowly expanding vapor trails of high-flying jet aircraft is a fluke of geography - we live under a large number of converging continental flight paths - and atmospheric dynamics. And I'll never complain. There's something quite humbling about standing on the ground while this ever changing kaleidoscope of human-caused meteorology plays out miles overhead.

Not everyone gets it, though. As I stand beside the parking lot with my camera, other parents stop and stare. One takes a moment to ask what I'm doing, then shrugs when I tell her I'm watching the contrails. The rest just drive off, some shaking heads, wondering why Dahlia and Noah's dad is staring into space again.

There are days when I wish they'd take the time to enjoy the scene. But today's not one of them. For now, alone is a good place to be.

Your turn: Do you stare into space sometimes? What are you looking for?


Tabor said...

Lovely in spite of the controversy that contrails cause to the environment. Interested to see the photos in London after this volcanic explosion.

Mark said...

I know what you mean about onlookers' lack of understanding. Yesterday a co-worker saw my camera hanging from my shoulder and said, "Oh, what are you taking pictures of today?"

"Just whatever I see that I want to take a picture of."

Blank stare.

"I always keep my camera with me, just in case."

Blank stare. Why do I even try?

"You know, on the way to or from work, the sun might make some nice colors in the sky or something."

He then asked what my job is and blah, blah. Oh well.

David Edward said...

i LIVE in space, so its good to look at it once in a while ( saves stubbing ones galactic toe)

David Edward said...

i thought that contrails are ICE crystals from condensate... how is it that all man made anything is a danger to everything forever, with out a doubt?? I dont get it ...
Mt Pinatubo or Icelands Volcano, now THAT is spewing some serious CRAP into the air..... we will never come close to the POWER of the earth to heal or to harm the 'environment'.

oops - ranting, sorry

rashbre said...

Our vapour trails have temporarily ceased because of the Icelandic ash.

srp said...

Sometimes staring off into space is the only way to gather your thoughts, especially when so many different things are pulling in all directions and your mind needs to just... chill, float, regroup, rest. Rest... our minds don't even get to rest much while we sleep with all the processing and filing and saving going on up there. Our minds deserve that moment of "nothing special" just resting.

Catherine said...

One of the things that struck us when we visited the UK was the enormous number of jet trails in the sky - I guess they are finding it quite strange at the moment to see the sky without them.

Peg Cherre said...

We are in a big flight path here in southwestern NYS. The other day I saw no fewer than 15 contrails in one section of sky. (I couldn't count accurately because I was driving.) I do like looking at them, although for me it's a somewhat guilty pleasure, because of all the fossil fuel they're burning.

Nikki - Notes of Life said...

I stare into space quite a lot, either when having a think or admiring the beauty of the sky. Due to the Icelandic volcano, we don't actually have any trails in the sky over Wales at the moment and for the foreseeable future.

Glennis said...

This is an awesome photo.