There’s a runway near my house. You wouldn’t know it was there except for the red lights lining the road next to it for a mile or two, and the spinning search light that works twenty-four hours a day just behind a small diner with a neon Cessna lighting its facade. It’s the kind of place where pilots are responsible for radioing each other on their arrivals and departures.
It’s an interesting phenomenon to me. The tarmac seems to be in good shape, the lights are always lit and never seem to die, and the asphalt in front of the single blue aluminum hangar is always filled with small planes and the occasional helicopter.
I wonder who keeps this little show running, but it’s one of those things I keep way in the back of my mind. It’s a mystery I want to remain unsolved. I fear the truth will be a dull history of a musty town meeting debating a tax hike. I prefer to imagine a rich recluse funding it simply because he has money to burn and a passion for the Wild Blue Yonder. He wants something exciting and poetic to exist in an otherwise mundane town where fast food joints outnumber five star restaurants twelve to zero. His weathered good-looking face is showing signs of age, but his clear blue eyes twinkle, and his gruff demeanor softens, every time he hears propellers spin and wheels touch down.
But I digress.
There’s a path that runs directly under the final approach. It’s beautiful, as far as paths go. It’s paved and curvy, but the sides are pitched steeply with rocks and gravel on both sides. A reservoir sits to the East, surrounded by pines, and the runway angles away to the West. The views are breathtaking, and a bracing wind always seems to blow.
Connecticut is dense with trees and undulating topography; even the farmland twists and runs uphill, so access to unobstructed views is exceedingly scarce. Our suburban night skies are limited to small portraits, barely containing the Big Dipper and Orion’s Belt. It’s strange how nature can make you feel claustrophobic.
I imagine this is why I am drawn to this place.
I’ve always longed for space. My muscles and mind expand for miles as I trudge along, pulling a hood over my head or blowing into my hands. My eyes scan the horizon hoping for planes. They’re quieter than you might think, but It’s not hard to find red and green blinking lights or the glint of sun bouncing off a set of wings yawning and arcing their way over the treetops. I always stop to watch them take off and land. There are fewer things more magical than seeing a plane gather speed and lift off the ground into the sky. It’s dreams and engineering.
Tonight the planes are few and far between, but my scan is not without prize. A sunset swirls before me. It’s the kind of sunset that inspires my imagination and fuels my belief in a great creator. It’s too perfect in its scale, too raw in its power and beauty to be made of man. I say, “Wow,” to my furry companion, and she stops sniffing long enough to follow my gaze. I swear we share a moment, but before I know it she’s tugging the leash, pulling me out of my reverie.
I snap a picture with my phone and sigh. I know no matter the number of pixels, it’ll never do it justice.
By the time I turn around and head back, the sunset is muted and the clouds are a little further ahead than they should be. It’s ok. The truck’s heater warms my fingers and I feel better off for the exercise. The path is one mile in each direction, it is the perfect length for a brisk walk with a small dog.
She curls up on top of the center console and rests her head on my arm. She likes the heater too. She huffs out a sigh as we exit the parking lot. I know how she feels.
Sunsets have a way of doing that.
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