Friday, July 21, 2006


I’ve been flying since I was about two years old, and I’ve never lost my sense of childlike wonder at the view out the window.

I left Saint John this evening, enroute to Toronto for an overnight stop. Tomorrow, it’s back to Chez Elisson.

The day in Saint John was beautiful, with a clear blue sky, a gentle (well, maybe not too gentle) breeze, and a temperature in the mid-70’s Fahrenheit. Or mid-20’s Celsius. Take yer pick.

A small group of us from the Great Corporate Salt Mine made the ten-minute trek into town for lunch. We sat outside at the Saint John Ale House - one of the places I’ve enjoyed several times over the last few months - and had a pleasant sun-drenched meal. Afterwards, we grabbed coffee at the Coffee Moose. A few of us were jonesing for espresso, and that’s one thing Tim Hortons does not offer.

As the day turned into evening and I laid my plans for departing, the fog began to roll in, in strange, discrete cloudbanks over the water. But things were clear out by the airport, and my departure was right on time.

As usual, I had a window seat. Yeah, I know most grownups like to sit on the aisle. But I’ve got a capacious bladder, so I’m not having to jump up two or three times during an average flight to take an Airborne Whiz...and, anyway, I like looking out the window.

As we headed west over New Brunswick’s gleaming rivers and lakes, we eventually found ourselves over a cloud deck. Off in the distance, toward the west, the sun was setting, backlighting a mesa-like cloud formation that hung in the distance like a plateau over the cloud deck. It was indescribable, and I found myself longing for my still camera.

I still remember the first time I saw a sunset from 35,000 feet. It was in 1963, and I was on the way to Miami with my mother and brother, there to visit the Grand-’Rents. The sky was a deep, rich blue, and the sun was drifting downward behind thin clouds, creating a fantastic skyscape of oranges and reds. It was a vision that made me a Window-Seat Flyer forever.

I’ve looked out the airplane window at the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, with not a speck of land from horizon to horizon. I’ve looked out at the ice-capped mountains of Alaska, the frozen crags of Greenland, the polar ice sheet. I’ve watched the setting sun illuminate my plane’s huge Rolls-Royce engines in orange fire, and hours later, the first rays of the rising sun paint those same engines in shades of rose. I’ve seen the skyscrapers of New York and Hong Kong, the mighty gouge of the Grand Canyon. For me, the view out the airplane window is never boring.

It’s a view that we, as Children of a Technological Age, are privileged to have, a view beyond the province of the birds. And it makes me feel like a wonder-filled child again, every time I see it.

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