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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