I’m so envious of poets. The ability to create an image using words is something I’ve never developed. You would think with pictures and video it would be easy to bring back the beauty you find in the air to share with your friends. Even those things fall short of reality.
I launched just as the sky started to lighten Saturday morning. The wind was calm and a heavy dew meant my wing became soaked as I laid it out. Carrying my big bag with extra oil, water, tools, and battery pack, I was struggling on takeoff.
My right wingtip dipped on inflation which turned me right and into the trees lining the field. I really did not want to reset and when you abort a launch on wet grass your wing picks up more water and the next attempt is even harder. I pulled hard on the right side A’s and drove my left brake down to counter the turn as I ran under the wing. Then as it corrected I pulled hard on the right brake to prevent over correcting. I missed the trees by at least eighteen inches and ended up running up hill out of the low area near the tree line, but I made it.
As I climbed out(very slowly) I made a 90 degree left turn and I was given a sight that was shocking in comparison to the struggle of that launch.
The sun was still too low to see from the ground and there was a light mist you couldn’t really notice unless you could see for a few miles into the distance. Climbing out and turning into the sun the effect was unreal.
The sun was so low in the mist you could stare at and soak in the entire picture without being blinded. Looking away to the horizon the mist slowly obscured more of the landscape until you just saw the tops of trees floating on clouds. The air was cool, that perfect place just before it’s too cold to really enjoy. This is why I’m jealous of poets. I wish I could share that memory with you as it is in my mind.
I wish I could tell you about following a flock of small birds I had never seen before. There were two dozen. Some so jet black the seemed to be holes in the sky. Some so blazing white they seemed to glow from the inside. All diving and turning, playing with each other in the air. Never touching.
Then there is the two Blue Herons. I’ve always thought these were awkward creatures. Great at fishing of course but limited in their capabilities in the air just due to their size. I’m such a fool.
Skimming the treetops I looked down and caught sight of an enormous wing traveling through the trees. Thick trees. So dense it was hard to see into. This bird was sailing through the branches with the kind of slow, calm confidence olympic athletes can’t match. Never changing his pace, never needing to dart away from an unseen branch. He would time his flight and his wingbeats so that he would pass obstacles on the down stroke, stretching out his enormous wings to grab more air after clearing them.
Later I decided it would be fun to follow a creek lined with trees twisting through a field. After a short distance another Heron popped out below me. He had flown just fast enough to get ahead and the held his position just in front of me as I glided above the trees. He stayed over the water and flew between them. Eventually he popped out of the creek where it made a hard left and I followed him across the cornfield where he shot through a gap between two trees barely wider than his body. He had timed his wings perfectly, never changing his pace. It was probably my imagination but I swear he looked back at me as he cleared the gap and mad a 90 degree bank to the right before gliding away. As if to say “It was fun, lets do it again sometime”.
Then there was the vulture. Seeing one circling up in a thermal is nothing unusual, impressive every time but not unusual. This bird would climb like normal as he rounded the column of air, then dive gaining speed. As he rounded the back of the thermal he would flare so hard he almost did a back flip. Then he would stall, recover and get back into his climb. I watched him repeat this a few times as I glided by. I used to wonder if birds knew how lucky they were to have wings, now I know at least some of them do.