Dudley Steele Thanks, giving…

I am thankful for the sweet sleepy yawn of a radial engine as it wakes. Slowly stretching pistons,  inhale, hmnmmmm, exhale, ahhhhhhh,  lope, lope, lope lope, lope. Pause. lope, lope, lope, lope. Repeat. lope, lope, lope lope, lope. Pause. lope, lope, lope, lope. Slowly, rumble clicking, waking, pacing, pulsing, heart beating, odd then even. Beautiful morning sleepy whispers in rhythm, waking the air on my face to the music of the round. Stirring the world, around me.

I am thankful for the wind harvest I’ve learned to reap from the tops of the water and the wheat.  More filling than any voice, more satisfying than any ATIS appetizer, the greatest food of knowledge I use to provide for my plane, hearty stuff of tailwheel survival.  Hungry always to question. Where is the wind?  Is there more wind? Never sit down until you know which direction the wind is being served from.

I am thankful for open-cockpit biplane scars that are beauty marks to me. Skin cancer stitches and sun damaged neck are my jewels.  Two shoulders that can’t press flat against the wall from sitting sideways, left hand on the throttle and a right foot on the pedal, make me walk taller. I wear well, well earned laugh lines learned playing with my shadow.  Giggling my way through wild meadows, and teasing wind farms nestled in 100 mile straight-faced corn rows.  My eyes now older, shine brighter from flying through sunsets and chasing rainbow’s tails.  Collecting glowing jars of stars to place by my beside, lighting up my blue eyes, like the blue flame from my engine in the dark.

I am thankful for Men as tough as metal, as wild as North Dakota winds, and still gentle like fabric wings.  Men with flasks on their hips, mystery oil in their hair, and hearts laid bare on the  planes they fly in formation alongside mine, for life.

I am thankful for wingless pilots, mapping out the sky from the safety of their office and home.  Forever finishing their pilots hat, morse coding me … like signal fires at night for me to land, though their safe havens hold no safety for me, I still wave thanks as I fly by.

I am thankful for caretakers, craftsman, home hearth lighters, friends and family across the world opening hangar doors and hearts for us. Love lovers like me. They wrench, they feed, they check, they water, and they watch over us with unexpected generosity.   Happy for my familiar family in the Fort, and the Boat, and the orange blossom scented Lake Lands of Florida.  Newly happier still for Wisconsin cub flyers, FiFi lovers, crime fighting pilot-lighters, kite ladies, and wine bar roomies with fresh kidneys.

Lastly, I am thankful that I share the air with hundreds of thousands of big brave and strong pilots. Superheroes who unflinchingly swear to protect their passengers first, then their planes, and lastly themselves, each and every flight. Thankful that I get to tag alongside and look up at them with wide-eyed admiration. They are the heroes in my sky, that I am most thankful for.

First Blizzard 2013

P.S. I am hopeful that I still remember how to drive in snow and thankful for my all-wheel drive car as I set out to Indiana to spend part of the holiday with the Wilson’s.  Happy Thanksgiving my friends!

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