These contrails are from jets heading north west over Vancouver Island, from Seattle, Vancouver, who knows, going to the orient. Weekday evenings around seven o’clock. As they disperse in the high windflows they smudge and separate and form shapes like ghostly Japanese ideograms.
I am fated to live in places under flight paths. In Norfolk the sound and sight of jets flying high, all day but particularly in the morning, coming from their trans-Atlantic flights and beginning their descent into Amsterdam Schiphol was ever-present. I remember once flying in from Toronto on an overnight flight and seeing the coast of North Norfolk, Blakeney Point, etched clearly, thousands of feet below me.
The words of Joni Mitchell’s song haunt me. I wonder whether, torn between two homes and two cultures and linked by long flights crossing back and forth through time zones and over vast separations, I am not like the singer.
“I was driving across the burning desert
when I spotted six jet planes
leaving six white vapor trails
across the bleak terrain.
It was the hexagram of the heavens
It was the strings of my guitar
Amelia, it was just a false alarm.
The drone of flying engines
is a song so wild and blue.
It scrambles times and seasons
if it gets through to you.
Then your life becomes a travelogue
of picture postcard charms,
Amelia, it was just a false alarm
Maybe I really never loved
I guess that is the truth
I’ve spent my life in clouds
at icy altitude
People will tell you where to go
They’ll tell you where they’ve gone
But til you get there yourself you never really know
Where some have found their paradise
others just come to harm
I slept on the strange pillows
of my wanderlust
I dreamed of 747s
over geometric farms,
Dreams, Amelia, dreams and false alarms.”
(Edited from Joni Mitchell’s song ‘Amelia’ from the album ‘Travelogue’)