Archive | September, 2014

Flight School

12 Sep

They line up each morning.  Instructor at the front of the line, students trailing behind.  They position themselves at one end of the take off area, students watching intently, eager to learn how to lift off and climb into the sky.  Now the instructor starts.  She moves slowly at first, as if to say, “see, this is the way to begin”, but then she increases speed and waddles down the path.  In a moment she spreads her wings and goes through a series of hopping motions, like she’s stepping on hot stones.  Flap, hop.  Flap, hop.  The two students watch in wonder and probably try to imagine their young wings catching the air.

So it goes recently at the flight school in my backyard, just behind the azaleas along the base of the cinder block wall in the upper section of the yard.

Then the fun really begins as the young doves try to copy the instructor’s example.  The first one begins to run on shaky legs, then comes the slight extension of the wings, next the hoping and flapping, and finally the crash and roll.  They look like the Gooney Birds I used to see on Midway Island in the Pacific Ocean.  If you’ve ever seen Gooney Birds land or take off, you know what I mean.  In flight, they are beautiful and graceful.  Landing and taking off is another matter entirely.

I’m proud of Mom or Pop instructor (can’t tell which) and the eager learners.  I hope the little ones master the art of flying soon because it’s too dangerous to be a grounded bird.  Too many predators looking for a quick meal.  For two days I’ve found the babies on the lower ground level and scooped them up in my hands to put them back onto the relative safety of their training ground.  This morning I could tell the young learners were making progress when one of them flew from the ground to the top of the black metal fence.  Brother or sister still hugged the earth, but maybe tomorrow will be its day.

I hope so.  Everybody needs to fly and feel the exhilaration of breaking barriers.

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Hybrids and Humans

8 Sep

Speedometer

I have fallen in love with a car!  A car!

This hybrid beauty recently carried me, my wife, one large suitcase, assorted hand bags, a large cooler and a variety of other absolute necessities from Arizona to Texas in complete comfort at 52.4 miles per gallon.  My heart beats faster at the thought!  Bar graphs dance across the instrument panel depicting gas consumption while other fascinating gauges and dials announce electric battery capacity and all the things a driver needs to know while cruising along a broad Texas highway.  Not having driven a hybrid before, I read the manual and consulted friends who own one and got all the advice available to make the trip a good driving test.  One thing I learned quickly is that the car’s batteries recharge each time the driver eases off the accelerator or when the brake pedal is pushed to slow down or stop.  Sure enough, up goes the bar graph when my foot comes off the gas pedal and when actually coasting downhill at 70 mph the bar jumps to 100% fuel saving.  Pinch me…I must be dreaming!

Reliving these breathtaking moments after returning home to Arizona, it occurred to me that letting off the gas pedal has a personal application, too.  I’m certainly a poster boy for being busy and staying active, but once in a while I pay the price for pushing my own gas pedal too hard and too long.  Clearly there is value and benefit gained from easing off the gas…clearer perspective, renewed energy, rested spirit.  It’s okay to coast periodically…even to come to a complete stop.  Everyone’s battery needs recharging.

The principle applies to hybrids and humans.