Thursday, 10 November 2016

Small planes, big dinosaur

Flying over the moon

The USA as we all know, is very much a car culture. It's rare to see pedestrians, unless it's in the main street of a town, a shopping area, or a designated path or trail. I was lucky that there was such a trail just beside the house I was staying in, near a small town on the outskirts of Tulsa.

Small planes often fly overhead, from the nearby Flight School.

At one point the trail crosses a road and goes past the private property of a ranch, which was once completely rural, before the houses were built.

Some longhorn cattle graze near the fence separating the ranch property from the public path.

Flags wave in front of houses.

houses  have imaginative supports for mail boxes. 

The River City Trading Post has many pumpkins for sale. 

The Post Office is a safe place.

Photo credit: FJSobriquet

Photo session.

Photo credit: FJSobriquet


We leave the hot weather behind. The blue skies, the warmth on the skin, the breeze that rustles the leaves, most of them still green, a few yellow ones that have fallen from the tree onto the garden grass and lie there like the long-jointed grasshoppers or the curling butterflies that pirouette in the wind......

Coming into Chicago, the clouds lay flat as plates, stacked in the kitchen cabinet of the sky. These plates soften on contact with each other, press together, clothes emptied of occupants, clothes waiting for the rain to congregate, shrugging the briefest of shoulders, with each lightning flash running through the seams of them like celestial shears.

And then, on touchdown in the airport, it begins to rain – first, trickling down the many windows of the tubular structure that makes up the airport, and now, splattering on the plane roof itself, as we wait to move towards the runway. I so much like this airport, with its grey walls decorated with nuts and bolts effects, its many windows, its glass roof that lets the light in, and most of all its resident dinosaur (skeleton) with its small head almost touching the roof.

And the last flight, back across the Atlantic.


I'd like to share this post from the Sufi website
The Threshold Society. They quote from The Rumi Daybook 

 When you feel the urge to complain, give thanks instead. Exaggerate your gratitude. He didn’t say difficult circumstances would necessarily change. What he said was that, by showing gratitude, you will generate love. And this generating love is an act of Creation. This is an act of Healing. This is an act of Power. In this act, may we fly.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Travelling to Tulsa

Downtown Tulsa: photo credit FJSobriquet

This was a different kind of travel for me, going to Tulsa, Oklahoma for a family wedding. Instead of my usual buses and trains, I have to take three flights to reach my destination, beginning with the transatlantic one from Edinburgh to Newark.  I spend a lot of time in American airports, and in a world very different from the low-tech one I'm accustomed to. But this gives me plenty of time to browse bookstores, people-watch, and have the occasional conversation.

Flying across the Atlantic, the map of the world showing the flight path has a mysterious area in darkness, the area where it is still night. A few lights twinkle in this dark place, waiting for daylight. Waiting for the line of light that slowly moves forward, as the dark area recedes.

The sun symbol on the flight path screen has shifted from the lower part of the African continent, a little westward out into the ocean. I think this sun symbol must stand for midday, as it's at the mid-point between the 2 curtains of darkness, the one just on the edge of New York, the other, far to the east, beyond India.

It's been 3 years since I was last in the USA. Some things have changed. Prices have gone up, I notice in Newark airport. Exacerbated of course by the exchange rate which when I arrived made the pound worth scarcely more than the dollar.  10-15 dollars for a glass of wine meant that my capacity for self-denial kicked in. I would dearly have liked a glass of wine as I'd already spent a few hours in Newark airport, but there was no way I was going to pay that. Instead, I went into a café where I could speak to the person who took my order, and I had a coffee for a mere 4.50 dollars. I was flying stand-by, which means you might get on your desired flight or you might not. All the flights to Chicago – my next destination – seemed to be very popular and I didn't get on the first flight or the next and in fact I lost count of how many flights I waited for hopefully only to be told that there were no available seats.

Planes at Newark & the New York skyline

One thing that had not changed was the friendliness and courtesy of everyone I spoke to especially the people at the check-in desks. They smile, they're helpful, some of them are even apologetic about the fact that they can't let you on.
You strike up conversations with others who are also waiting. And because each flight, only about an hour or so apart, leaves from a different departure gate and because Newark airport is very big, there's quite a bit of walking to be done to get to the next gate, which is much better than having to sit in the same place all the time.

One of my co-sharers in patience, co-multiple returnees to boarding gates, trying to get on a flight, is a young Frenchman who currently lives in Chicago.
It isn't always like this, it's just a bad day he assures me – with a soupçon of a shrug and a big grin – this is exceptional.
Two flights before the last one, the Frenchman was actually offered a seat and he said he wanted to give it to me instead! Of course I knew he couldn't do that, as there is a strict order to be followed in the stand-by list, but it was sweet of him to try.

The last flight to Chicago is at 8.10 pm and it looks full. The stand-by passengers are allocated seats at the last minute. And I'm given the very last seat on the plane, am hurried down the corridor by the person at the desk and my fellow stand-by passengers who got on two minutes before me, wave at me with delight. I sit down in the seat, fasten my seat belt, doors are closed, engines rev and the plane begins to move towards the runway.