Jeff and I stand at the front of the hangar. As we watch student pilots practice their approaches and landings, we revel in the wonderful evening. The weather is perfect for perfecting landings–except for the westerly winds, which forces the pilots to land to the
west, placing the sun right in their eyes. All else is wonderful, the temperature, humidity, …the sunset itself.
It is good to be at the airport again. I spend too much time working–away from the people and places I really enjoy. As we stand talking, the airport cat comes over and does what cats do. He rubbed up against me and I reached down and patted his head. I also thought our cat, Gracie, is going to be one ticked off feline when she smells another cat on my pants leg.
As I was thinking about this, a Cessna flies overhead and it triggered the memory of a day from about 12 years ago. Jeff and I were shooting landings in the 170 when I tired and got out near the hangar. He taxied back for some more and I sat down to watch from the side of the taxiway.
I watched as Jeff deftly took off and flew away. It was late afternoon, right at sunset. It was a very pretty evening and very peaceful. I could hear the throaty sound of the 170’s Continental as it climbed into the sky. I always preferred the sound of the Continental to the Lycomings; the Continentals were deeper and quieter compared to the whiny Lycs. The further they flew away, the more quiet it became.
I relished the peace. I liked the quiet.
As Jeff turned downwind for 11, I could barely hear the plane. Truly all was right with the world at the moment. As he came abeam my position, it forced me to turn around slightly to watch the plane. That was when I saw him.
And he saw me.
No more than 50 feet away in the middle of the access taxiway, a bobcat sat preening himself.
Huh, I thought. I hope he has just finished eating. Maybe he won’t be so inclined to eat me.
I was smart enough not to move. I watched him, he watched me. We both seemed content to let things remain the way they were. I had no inclination to scratch that cat behind the ears.
As Jeff kept flying, I continued to sit and watch–both the 170 and the bobcat. I don’t remember how many more circuits Jeff completed, but when he finished up, I turned around to take a look at the bobcat one last time. He was gone and it was turning dark.
It was time to put the 170 away in the hangar.
©2011 J. Clark