Why I love flying

For every trip, a photograph. Or a postcard, a trinket, some snazzy souvenir.

Remember the time that… that was the best (insert place/object here)… I’ll never forget when you…

I am partial to the photograph. At some point in time during my visit, I was moved to raise my camera and capture something. The long expanse of beach with the waves breaking just so. A bright-eyed child at a candy store. The hard working hands of an artist.

One place where I don’t typically take photos, is on an airplane. By the time I fasten my seatbelt, my camera is tucked away and I have my forehead to the window. If my camera were in my lap instead, I would never take my finger from the shiny silver button. Continuous shutter right on til twilight when the sky explodes in light.

Flying out of Champaign, IL is quick and easy. A tiny airport with four gates and small jets to Chicago. I smile during takeoff – flying is something that I thoroughly enjoy.

Rising above the tarmac, I am startled by the view. Fields spread out in uniform squares, no longer green but shades of brown: chestnut, chocolate, coffee. Packaged tightly like quilter’s squares, every other corner holds a home. Nature’s checkerboard repeats, and repeats, and repeats – with occasional thimble-sized clusters of shiny aluminium that signify civilization (population 200).

I squint as we turn toward the sun and think: this is not landscape, this is land. Postage stamps of hard work and labor, lying dormant for the winter. Where are the trees?

No clouds today as we speed north, where wind turbines stand like toothpicks in tidy rows. From this distance they don’t look like they could pick up hors d’ouevres let alone generate energy.

The view stretches on, with very little deviatation. A wider road here, driving through another town, with homes spread out to either side. Brown transforms to grey – whether the blocks of land are barren, broken or just frostbitten, I can’t say.

We have only been in the air for half an hour, when that steel utopia winks in the distance. A city. Chicago, in fact. The familiar towers stretch for the clouds and demand your attention: here I am, gale force winds be damned. The suburbs bubble up and over the land, and tumble haphazard into what you think could be countryside. No more fields, no more silos – just skyscrapers.

This is the kind of photograph I will not try to take. But they are not images I will soon forget.

Flying rocks. Next stop: Newark.


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