Sunday, February 17, 2013

Superbowl Sunday, 2013: Flight

Because Ian is not a sports fan - especially of football - we are out for a long drive today rather than being indoors at home watching the game which was still in pre-game festivities when we left the island.  My husband, the aerospace engineer, needs to find some piano wire for a new project so we have driven up to Chesapeake, Virginia, looking for hobby shops.  While we had little luck in the city, we did stumble on one at the outskirts, right beneath an overpass.  Underneath, the concrete is graffitied heavily with black and red and white paint.  Beautiful lettering, but using a script I do not know, words I cannot cipher. I am strangely content knowing that someone came here, off the roadway, off the path, to leave his mark on the concrete world. You'd have to be looking for it to see it, much like poetry. Or here by accident, as I am.

Ian is inside the hobby warehouse and I am waiting for him in the car with the window half down, scribbling, as is my habit when he loses himself happily in the pursuit of flight. He has parked the car so I can face away from the building - an ugly, squat building - where he is scavenging for that "special wire" he needs to control something-or-other that will allow the plane to fly as he wishes it to fly.  

In a field nearby, three men are flying a large-scale radio-controlled plane, making it do its loop-de-loops and fast turns.  At one point, it flies upside down - something wholly implausible in the actual world of flight. Something a pilot would stringently avoid.  The thirty-something man who is flying the red and white plane sets it down neatly in the middle of the field and the young boy who has come to empty the trash into a large green barrel near the field has hesitated in awe, watching the men fly, watching as they gather their plane and equipment and head back to their truck.  The boy stares after them as they drive out of the sand lot and into the road, then he blinks and drops his attention again to the task of the trash can.  This is remarkable to him, that boy,  flight, the control of something mid-air, the easy way the men make the air theirs and move the small craft through it.  He does not seem interested, however, in the odd set of new concrete stairs set out into the middle of the field: three stairs going nowhere.  Or maybe it says too much to him already.  He heads back into the warehouse, shoulders sagging, eyes down, his chore finished.  Back to the warehouse of parts, of gears and flywheels, of pieces of things that make little sense to him.

Clearly, an effort has been made, here along the frontage road, to preserve a wooded barrier between the highway and the gravel road that runs along beside it:  40-foot-tall hardwoods stripped by winter winds of all but a few crisp leaves; a few tall pines and evergreens, a tangled thicket of dry grasses and thorn bushes.  At the top of one tall tree, a turkey-foot claws at Virginia's partly-cloudy, partly-still-blue Sunday afternoon sky.

It is easy today to send the eye up, up into the bright cobalt of space, if only to forget for a while the gaudy net - the spidered web - of power lines and cables strung between metal poles and across the tree line that remind us we live below the gaudy net of progress.  As if we can forget, for a while, how bound we are to the planet. As if it might be possible to allow something in us to rise, higher than the faded treetops, higher than the electric power structure, higher than the gaudy turquoise-and-faded-red sign perched precariously atop two rusted poles that announces Debbies RC World.  As if a shop of radio-controlled aircrafts and all the small guyed wires and knobs that send them careening skyward could be a world, as if even a world that small, that temporary, would be safe in our hands.