Saturday, July 09, 2016

The Wonder of Flight

A couple of weeks ago we had the opportunity to go to the International Air Show. This was a fantastic event with lots of static displays and demonstrations. We got to go inside the cockpit of a Herc. We saw jets, the Harvard Formation Team, the Skyhawks parachute team and more. It was really hot and there wasn't much shade. People were huddled under the wings of the planes to escape the heat. It really gave new meaning to "under his wings you will find refuge." (Psalm 91:4 NIV).

The highlight of the day for me was seeing the Snowbirds. Most of the crowd seemed pretty relaxed, whereas my heart was in my throat the whole time. It was terrifying. They flew in various formations, wing tip to wing tip. The skill and precision of those pilots was truly awe-inspiring. The show made me so proud and grateful for the men and women serving our country.

After the show we stopped off at the community garden plot where I saw this little guy busily pollinating our garden.

After the noise and busyness of the show, the garden was stunningly quiet and tranquil. And for all the power, skill and technology of man, this little miracle of flight also filled me with awe and wonder. For all we accomplish, we still depend on these small but mighty workers. Fly you high, little bumblebee.

It seems that flight has been a theme for me lately. From bugs, to kites, to planes, my eyes have been turned upward in expectation. And I can think of no more beautiful words on the topic than those of John Gillespie Magee Jr., a pilot for the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II:

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, --and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of --Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flug
My eager craft through footless halls of air...
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew--
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

It's a Fine Day

Thursday was a hot, humid day. We were sticky and cranky and needing a change of scenery. Luckily for us, it was "Psyched for Science" day at the library. Ah, the beautiful, air conditioned library. The children had fun making lava lamps, play dough, goop and disappearing colour wheels. We were messy and happy and finally cool. We were about to go, and noticed the challenge of the week: to make a picture based on a book they had recently read.  We borrowed art supplies from the Children's Desk and my daughter made a portrait of the BFG while my son recreated the scene from the temptation in the garden of Eden. Cognizant of the fact that we only had an hour on the parking meter, I encouraged them to work quickly. We were going over our time, but there is surely a window of grace.

Then it was time to check out. I needed to get a new card, and I had been feeling guilty about using my kids' cards for my books since my card had fines on it (I know, how embarrassing).  So I decided I would do the right thing and settle my account. Ten dollars later we were on our way, hurrying down the sidewalk in the soupy, sticky heat. We arrived just as the Parking Enforcement Officer was putting the ticket on our window. We were in the wrong; we were past our time and fully deserved the ticket.  I was still hopeful though, asking if we were too late to cancel the ticket. He explained once it is on the wind shield he can't do anything about it. He almost looked worried for a moment that it might turn into a confrontation. Instead I asked where I could pay it, and looking relieved, he gave me the information. I acknowledged he had a tough job to do, especially in this heat and thanked him for the help. 

We headed to City Hall to pay the fine. I started to get upset ("I told you kids to hurry up"), but realized I was the one to blame. I could have gone back at any time to feed the meter. This was instead now an opportunity to demonstrate to my children how to own up to your mistakes, deal with the consequences and move forward. We had it paid within five minutes of having it written. That's got to be a record. I mentioned to the lady at the wicket how helpful and professional the Parking Officer had been. She said he was new to the job so it was great to hear that feedback. It made me even more glad that I had kept my cool. 

So a trip to the library for a free program ended up costing $16.50, plus the money we put in the meter. I think it was still a great value. We had science fun, made "donations" to our library that we love and to our city, and the children got to see inside City Hall for the first time. We headed up to our community garden plot afterwards for a snack of peas, and were again reminded of all this beautiful city provides for us. It made me feel good about giving something back.