Flying the Summer Chameleon


We’re flying creatures of the season, consciously or not. Unlike birds, though, despite the plumage, we transcend the simple “south in winter” edict and scatter to the corners of the globe in summer. But like landscape, we seem to brighten up as we warm.

Maybe it’s because there’s more leisure travel that the colors are brighter. Perhaps folks match their demeanor with their color scheme–dead serious drab dressy for work,

Bust let’s cut loose a little on vacation, right? And the destination, not the journey is the matchup:

It’s that place you hold in your mind’s eye that’s the wardrobe match-up.  Sure, that might clash a little en route, or maybe it’s even supposed to

at least not as long as there are no natural predators around. Mostly, though, we seem to ignore the “now” part of getting there and picture ourselves wherever we’re going. Which is fine–I do it too

But the part that would be a shame to miss is the color en route. Because it seems like around early to mid-May, the landscape wakes up too and furious colors erupt as if making up for lost time. There are parts of the country whose colors may stay roughly the same, but the bright light of a tilted earth in this hemisphere’s summer casts a more brilliant spotlight deepest colors.

Same on the surface, too, if you stop and look. In the flight crew business, surface transportation in a strange town is typically on foot–which gives you time and proximity to take the up-close look at the colors of summer. Lousiville goes all out with their flowers

Block by block I stumble into someone’s flower beds, finally awake and blooming. Not to say, though, that the Big Picture landscape from altitude is any less dramatic:

The badlands of Utah and Arizona seem to gain their second wind in Spring, with deep colors that from miles above seem to be painted with a heavy brush.

When you’re walking (or running, although I have to retrace my steps with camera for anything cool) it’s easier to notice the little details of beauty that are the careless by-product of Spring and summer.

Just a few days (and in my case, a few thousand air miles) later, the fury of the yellow dots fade (I checked) but for this slow moment, what could be brighter?

Even just the sky alone is puffed up with swelling ocean moisture heated by sunlight then boiling up into towering storms, shoulder to shoulder daring you to either top them or go a hundred miles out of your way–which we often have to do.

That of course adds to the colors on our radar map display as well, another sign of the season.

But that’s okay–a few hundred extra miles in a week is no big deal, and the view, as with the short-lived flowers, is worth appreciating while you’re there. And the closer you get to the ocean, the more rambunctious the towering cumulus gets.

In hot weather, flying in Florida reminds me of the South Pacific where the thunderstorms were so tall you couldn’t even see the tops–you just went around them.

And before things get too ungodly hot, a morning walk in the California desert still gives a burst of color if you look.

That’ll be gone by the end of summer. And so will the flying chameleon: it’ll be back to the drabness of bundled layers, colder weather, duller light and subdued colors.

But until then, while you head for your brightest vacation spot, don’t miss the bright chameleon en route both on the ground and five miles in the air. Sure, keep that destination image in the forefront of you mind as you travel, because that makes the trip seem easier, doesn’t it?

And while I take you where you need to go, I’ll be seeing this . . .

. . . but since it’s summer and the season to enjoy a colorful excursion, I’ll be thinking this:

Safe and colorful travels, whether at 2 miles per hour or 500. Enjoy.

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4 Responses to “Flying the Summer Chameleon”

  1. Flying can be so capricious, don’t you think?

  2. Good pictures. It’s not just the arriving.

  3. the $500 plane ticket to Miami is worth it for the free Sky Mall magazine.

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