When we were kids we called them vaportrails. Now, I call them contrails. Those streaks across the sky made from the jet engines of jet planes. Either term is okay. It’s simply the condensation of the water from the exhaust of the plane, turning into visible water vapor.
It wouldn’t be incorrect to say they are true clouds. Water vapor that is normally invisible, now is seen as a white trail.
When we were kids, the contrails were not seen as often as they are today. In the late ’50’s, there wasn’t that many flights in the sky at any one time. Now, they often obscure the “real” natural clouds. Near cities, the streaks, linear and white, criss-cross the sky like a spider web. When I lived in Manhattan, I would look up and wonder how so many planes could avoid each other when you consider that there are three major airports nearby…Newark, La Guardia and JFK.
I remember in the days following Sept. 11, 2001, the airspace over Manhattan was closed. I stood in Central Park and saw a sky that is rarely seen…totally absent of those contrails…the only exception was the F-16’s that circled the island.
Now, I look up from Fort Myers in Florida and see a flight heading due west. It’s too high to have taken off from the Miami airport. Where did it originate? Europe? Africa? Where was it destined to land? The west coast? Dallas? Atlanta?
Who sat in the seats and drank the free wine in 1st Class? Who was watching a movie with earphones? Who was playing Scrabble on their iPad? Who was listening, with expensive JVC headphones to “Christmas of the Heart” by Bob Dylan?
“How’d you like to spend Christmas on Christmas Island?”
Who was trying to sleep while a baby cried? Who was crying inside their hearts because they were missing someone already? Who were the anxious ones that fidgeted in their narrow Economy seats until they landed and were in the arms of someone they loved?
Who was heading home for Thanksgiving? Who were confused about where they were going, on this afternoon? Who was trying to figure out their place in life?
Who was happy? Who was sad?
Who was thankful for what they had in life? Who was thankful for life?
I hope everyone who reads this knows how fortunate they are. If you are prone to the holiday blues, remember, a new year is coming…
Solemn but meaningful thought. I even remember the days before jets. PJLH