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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Air wars

The fog and rain of the past day and a half lifted this morning and the temperature immediately jumped 15 degrees in sympathy with the rest of the East Coast this hot and muggy July. I was grateful to the fog not only for Saturday's cool but also for cancelling Day 1 of the "Wings and Wheels Spectacular," an annual event now 35 years running at the Owls Head Transportation Museum that I look forward to with some dismay. Various vintage aircraft strut on the tarmac and circle and buzz in the air and manage to be louder two miles away than your average lawnmower is next door. This year war materiel were to be featured, biplanes from World War I, a WW2 German bomber scale replica, an Air Tanker, and a Black Hawk Helicopter. The usual air show of loops and dupes was scheduled each afternoon.

Today the morning started promisingly with heavy rain accompanying the fog but deteriorated into blue sky. At 1:30, the time set for the air show, beautiful heavy black clouds started to roll in and I was momentarily happy. Alas, they cleared too quickly and the familiar buzz, like a dentist's drill, commenced in the distance. I gave up on my nap, I mean, my hour of afternoon novel reading, and went out to weed the gardens, an activity not unlike sitting in the dentist's chair. If you're going to suffer, suffer doubly.

A chunk of this fascination with old airplanes must have to do with war (as witnessed by the pedestrian inclusion in this year's show of a plane that performs that exciting task of refueling in the sky). Another part concerns birds, of course, and our desire to slip the surly bonds of earth. The merging of the two tropes gives us the eagle clutching its arrows, the symbols of our country and its deadly ambitions. Count me out; give me instead the hummingbird darting into the campanula, the robin strutting peacefully on the lawn, the sparrow drinking or bathing or fishing(?) in our gutters after a rain; the lovable American goldfinch swooping and tweeting along the shore. Birds don't do war as we do.

This summer even the air is warring. We struggle in a constant stream of humidity; the rains come but unlike normal years, in which cool air follows, the heat just stays. At the edges, where cold fronts try to mount the ramparts, even a violent storm like the one on Wednesday night (more than two hours of thunder and lightning and rain, just sitting on the coast like a curse) produces no salvation from Canada, just fog and more moisture. Maybe if we get all the war planes together to make their own thunder....

Tomorrow: Ground wars


Jeff Boatright said...

Your brush is broad, but understandable for a mere groundling (kidding! just kidding!). True, some of the draw for airshows is the military; way too much IMO. Possibly this is a reflection of our apparent national priorities. Consider what we spend on the military versus ANY other endeavor in this country. AFAIK, it's been this way since at least WWII.

But also consider that, just as there are many in the general populace who don't agree with this way of spending our national treasure, there are those involved in aviation who are not rah-rah about the emphasis on the military (historical or not) at fly-ins and airshows. Maybe it will bring some peace to you knowing that many, many of the people flying those small planes overhead, especially up in your area, are more like these folks:


than these guys:


Still, they all make the same noise regardless of intent, right? ;)

Kate said...

afternoon novel reading = Daddy's "reading" ;-)

Back home in Brest and I'm missing Maine!