flight at night

Tuesday, 5 November 2019.

I flew across the country last night. Had a window seat. Saw many lights gleaming in the darkness. Towns, highways. Perhaps the most beautiful were the many fields of illumination which were constantly vanishing and then re-appearing, wraithed in midwestern cloud far below. Or the Rocky Mountains beyond Denver, with their new November snow reflecting the quiet moonlight.

I had studied our route and the shapes and plans of most major cities between New York and San Diego. So I knew it was Denver, stretching below our wings. So, too, I understood who were those huge, furrowed mountain shadows of pearly white, hovering on the edge of visibility, those long mountain ranges in the west of the great capital city. No lights shone in their deep, pale blanket.

Half of the country – most of the East – had been covered in cloud, with only a hint of road or city breaking through. Then came the west, where the skies opened up and the landscape gleamed with twisted highway and sprawling town, set against the larger darkness of desert and mountain. Basin and range.

At last, we slowly returned to the ground, dropping down toward my home in California. Only then was I faced with the truly ugly piece of my trip: the long walk to baggage, and then an even longer hike to reach the street and find a taxi to carry me home.