On Sunday I flew back after a jaunt to the UK. Jaunt is appropriate, as it really was an extraordinary use of money and natural resources, that I don't want to examine too closely, but was a glorious luxury to visit home for a weekend, be part of a spectacular birthday surprise for my stepmother, as well as spending some much needed time with my mum. It was grand.
The flight back was pretty stellar as far as flying goes - I'm afraid I've become rather jaded about the joys of flying. While at a wedding recently I was talking with some mums who had come away for what was the first time without their young kids, and they had been extremely excited about the prospect of eight hours on their own, to just watch tv, movies, read and, frankly, just be on their own, as them, without being a parent. Sometimes I understand that freedom to be away, but it's not been like that of late. There's always some work I could/should be doing; or sleep to be had; or a terrible selection of in-flight entertainment.
Sunday was great, however: I read The Knife of Never Letting Go in one fell swoop, devouring it and genuinely gasping at the end, wanting to scream in frustration that I didn't have the next book with me to plough through. I then watched Super 8 (The Goonies, basically, but that's not an insult, and I was genuinely dazzled by Elle Fanning, I thought she was great) and Drive (underwhelmed, but I do think a plane is not the best place to watch something that clearly was meant to be optimally seen and heard in a cinema). Nonetheless, it's a rare flight where there are two movies I want to see that I've not promised to watch with TOH, so that in and of itself was a joy.
The best part, however, was that midway through Drive, something caught my eye out of the window. We probably were coming just over Canada, somewhere, and settlements along the seaboard suddenly appeared through the clouds. I love seeing those at the best of times, but the busy, orange lights starkly contrasted with the vast blackness of the sky, which was illuminated by a gloriously bright moon and Winter Triangle. The Winter Triangle consists of Betelgeuse, the big red star in Orion's shoulder, Sirius (the Dogstar, part of Canis Major, and the brightest star as seen from Earth), and Procyon, in Canis Minor. Orion really is something special to me - the first constellation I learned to recognise, and a symbol of long, winter nights with clear skies and visible puffs of breath in the cold. It particular reminds me of one New Year's Eve (I think) that we spent on my uncle's barge in the middle of nowhere, with miles and miles of sky above us, clear and beautiful. Terrifying in its vastness and emptiness, but beautiful and comforting, too. There is a Summer Triangle, but it just doesn't have quite the same magic, for some reason. Being 30,000ft up made the Winter Triangle seem much closer, as if we were sharing the same space, equally separated and distant from the Earth's surface. It was disorienting but glorious, and all too fleeting. The clouds covered the settlements and we moved on, touching down all too soon.