Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Seasons change with the scenery 

Houston's brief flirtation with winter was ending when we left yesterday. The sky was a bright, clear blue, and the thermometer was edging into the 60's. This was the weather that I remembered from many a childhood Christmas; cool enough to require a jacket, but perfect for riding the brand new banana-seated bicycle that Santa had brought. This year, such weather would've been perfect for chasing nephews around the yard. Ah, well, it was a lovely Christmas anyway.

I sleep easily on airplanes, and yesterday's flight from Houston to Seattle would've provided evidence of this to anyone who might have doubted it. After some reading, and a surprisingly passable sandwich, I nodded off for a couple of hours. I awoke to the sounds of my aislemates talking about the mountain. Anyone who has spent time in western Washington will know that the mountain is Mt. Rainier. I looked out the window, and there it was, snowy peak glittering in the late afternoon sun. Surrounding it was a blanket of clouds, extending as far as I could see.

As the plane turned north to make the usual looping descent over Seattle, it became apparent that the cloud cover over downtown was low. The top of the Bank of America Tower, Seattle's tallest building, poked its head up above the clouds. It was the only visible landmark, a small, dark island in a sea of white.

On the final approach to SeaTac, the clouds were still below us; nothing on the ground was visible. The man sitting next to me asked, "Haven't we passed SeaTac by now?" as we entered the clouds. Seconds later, I could just make out red landing lights, and then we were on the ground, bouncing a bit as the airplane slowed.

A short while later, we stood waiting for the parking lot shuttle to take us to our car. I looked out at the fog, and found myself humming, thinking: Look around, leaves are brown, and the sky is a hazy shade of winter.