Hartsfield Airport, Atlanta is a city unto itself, figuratively if not literally. Its Concourses A through E analogous to busy streets, with shops, restaurants, and news stands lining the sides, scurrying pedestrians crowding the thoroughfares, all of them intent on getting to somewhere else as quickly as possible.
Boarding the big Boeing 767 that will carry us across the ocean, we shuffle slow-motion down the long narrow aisles and install ourselves in the small spaces where we'll spend the next nine hours.
I love the beginning of any flight. Rolling down the taxiway, watching other planes ahead, the glimpse down the length of the runway as the pilot swings the plane into position for takeoff. I like the sounds, the mechanical whir as the flaps are extended, and the whistling, wailing sound of the engine turbines climbing through octaves toward full power. The best part is the moment when the brakes are released and the aircraft surges forward, accelerating down the runway, watching the nose lift in the moment before the sudden surge at the instant the wheels leave the ground and we leap into the air, watching in fascination as the ground falls away.
As we float eastward at almost 600 mph the sky continues its evolving light show, an infinitely delicate gradation of color from melted-glass orange though daffodil yellow and even a faint spring leaf green to robin's egg blue, mauve, and finally a rich purple high up.
Long before the Sun actually puts in an appearance the scattered light begins to reveal a vast expanse of faintly pink cotton-ball clouds stretched out below us, showing subtle variations in local wind currents that create swirls and eddies in the overall texture of the cloud layer.