The flight to visit the northern branch of the Red family was amazingly quiet, calm, and uneventful. The forecast appeared to promise the same for the return journey, but November had the final say. A big low pressure system opted to move north rather than south, dumped rain where it was needed (but not everywhere it was needed), snow where it was not expected, and then lurked along the line of travel between There and Home.
Happily for my peace of mind, the severe weather associated with the low wrapped up before the flight, at least along that route. It would return farther to the east, but I went west. The people shepherding everyone onto the flight warned that it was both full and full of kids, so please be patient. Indeed, I’d say a third of the passengers were babies or children under age six. That’s great! We boarded under clear skies, and took off on time, heading west and south. Soon white ripples and sheets of clouds hid the ground. The plane bounced a bit, light turbulence but nothing more, and I read. The cloud deck solidified. I could see a few low mesas of cloud to the east, but nothing towering or sending out streamers of hail and snow.
The plane sank through the clouds to emerge about two thousand feet or so above the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex*. Rain had drenched the place recently, based on the puddles, streams, and wet roofs below. Grey covered the world, the usual color of early winter, at least in my mind. The usual flurry of disembarkation followed, and MomRed, DadRed, and I found our gate and threaded our way through the bustling crowd to find a place to wait. We had a few hours. The clouds outside remained low and dark, as forecast. The windsock in the distance flapped in the usual Texas way. At least it wasn’t horizontal with the narrow end flipping up from time to time. That would come later, once the low finished chugging by.
MomRed and I went in search of dinner. We found a Baskin-Robins, and I tried the Spicy-and-Spooky chocolate. Dark chocolate, ghost pepper (just a tiny bit), dark and light chocolate chunks—what more could a chocolate buff ask for? It was great, and cleared my sinuses in a good way. Mom tried that and two milder flavors. As we finished the treat, the rain began to patter down lightly on the windows and roof. Ah, November.
The captain of the next flight told the flight attendants that they’d stay strapped in for the flight. That’s usually not a great sign, but I was too tired to sweat it. Plus we were in a nice, solid 737. We had the option of altitude if necessary. The plane launched into the grey, clawing through layers of grey and white to emerge into a painfully bright yellow-gold burst of light over a white rippled world. The plains of cloud mirrored the land far below. They reminded me of sand dunes, driven by the wind from northwest to southeast. The few bumps were no worse than my daily commute, and later the captain apologized for the lack of service. The ride from Amarillo to the D/FW area had been rough, and he was concerned about a repeat. As short as the flight was, I didn’t mind the lack of snacks, and I don’t think it bothered anyone else. We were all still in a bit of turkey-torpor I suspect.
We arrived in Amarillo to a striking sunset. Gold dripped from the clouds down toward the land as the sun set. Brilliant yellow and gleaming gold, like a Baroque church altar, draped the sky and washed the ground. A pillar of light, not an ice pillar but the last bits of virga, marked the place of the now-vanished sun. The cab driver agreed that it was one of our better sunsets.
It was a good day.
*There’s a regional saying that when you die, you have to go through Dallas/Fr.Worth before you can get to either Heaven or Hell. It was most certainly true about flying anywhere until very recently.