Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Summer never really seemed to come to my neighborhood this year and though there were a few truly hot days, they've been quickly forgotten. Walking the dogs this afternoon, the air was thick was the unmistakable feeling of autumn. Undeterred by the cold, onshore sea breeze, I have defiantly worn, and continue to wear, shorts. I'll admit I usually find the need of a sweater, too. This year saw more overcast skies than I can remember since moving to Berkeley over 13 years ago and to the Bay Area nearly 25 years ago. We had rainfall in June - a rare event - and so I don't think it's just me.
Impending change has been borne out by our vegetable gardens. Tomatoes and strawberries never really came into their own. The kale and eggplant, thriving in cool weather, are growing like weeds. Even the kids playing in the park know that summer has begun to lay down. Their hoots and hollers, not entirely drained of enthusiasm, are noticeably tinged with melancholy. Still savoring freedom and green grass, knowing it will soon give way to fidgeting under fluorescent light, constrained by rules, rain, and the teacher's droning.
Maybe my perception of the seasons is what has changed. Without an FAA medical certificate for over 10 months, I've done a lot less flying and teaching, spending more time on the ground looking up. This time last year, the opposite was true: I was often on top of those clouds. I tell myself it's been interesting, a growth experience, that I did the right thing, made the complex choice by telling the FAA about my medical issue. We Americans are in love with easy and you can usually tell you've done the right thing because the consequences are seldom simple or easy.
In October I expect to be found qualified to once again hold an FAA medical certificate, having fulfilled the one-year "recovery" period mandated by the folks in Oklahoma City. October is also when I renew my flight instructor certificate. Since I've done a lot less teaching and recommended few pilots for practical tests, I can't renew my instructor certificate based on my activity as an instructor. So while the kids outside play tug-of-war with the last scraps of summer, I lead the way to the classroom, fidgeting in front of my computer, completing an on-line Flight Instructor Refresher Clinic.
The forecasters predict an El Nino year where warmer than usual waters in the Pacific Ocean feed large amounts of moisture into the atmosphere. The jet stream will find its wandering way down from the North and if the weather forecasters are correct, the winds will well up from the Southwest, scoop up moisture from the warm Pacific, and pelt us Californians with steady, unrelenting rain, maybe some snow. And at some point, in October or November, I plan to glimpse the inside of one of those rain clouds, inside a fragile aluminum cocoon, hand resting lightly on the yoke. With a student or perhaps by myself, but once again pilot-in-command because autumn is coming.