In part one of this article we introduced the image of an inquisitive child embarking on a journey of self discovery. Right up to the point where they look to the adults in their life for answers.
This is the critical moment they begin to ask you and I the searching questions, of which we will now explore.
Here is a hypothetical example:
A father walks hand in hand with his son to the local park on a warm spring day. The boy looks up to the sky and sees this:
Nothing untoward in that, you may be thinking. And there isn’t. It’s a clear blue sky. A natural embodiment of nature in its purest sense. So the boy lets his mind wonder as he and his father walk in silence to the park.
Then the boy notices a smattering of clouds that until a few minutes ago had been building off the horizon.
The boy points and asks his father what they are.
‘Clouds’, he says. ‘They’re just clouds.’
But the boy demands more than that. He wants to know what type of clouds. His father considers for a moment.
‘Cumulus clouds I think’, he replies.
‘My teacher told me about them’, says the boy.
‘What did she say?’
‘She said it means a storm might be coming and they look like bits of cotton.’
The boy’s father smiles as they reach the park.
It is quarter of an hour later, with the boy being pushed by his father on the swings, that he sees something interesting above. Mainly because it is unknown to him.
The boy points to the sky.
‘What are those lines, Dad?’ he asks.
His father quickly looks up then back to his son.
‘They’re contrails, mate,’ he says.
‘What are contrails?’
‘They’re just when planes are flying above us. It comes out the engines.’
‘But there’s loads of them.’
‘Yeah…must be lots of planes flying today mustn’t there?’
The child says nothing as his father continues pushing him on the swing. He looks up again after a few minutes to see more lines appear in the sky. This time in the shape of a cross.
‘There’s more,’ he shouts.
‘Don’t shout. More what?’ his father says.
‘More lines in the sky. Look.’
The boy’s father looks up again. But only briefly.
‘Oh, yeah,’ he says.
‘Why do they leave those lines in the sky?’ the boy asks.
‘All big planes do, mate.’
‘But what is it?’
‘Just condensation from the engines.’
‘Like on a window?’
‘Yeah. It’ll just evaporate in the air. Disappear.’
‘When will it do that?’
‘It’ll be gone in a few minutes.’
The boy ponders on this as his father calls time on the swings. A quick go on the slide then the boy needs something for his lunch.
Soon, father and son are exiting the park hand in hand. They walk towards the nearest supermarket down the road. The boy looks up again. He frowns at what he sees.
‘Where did the sun go?’ he asks.
‘Just gone cloudy mate. That’s all.’
‘But the sky is all white.’
‘Just when it goes cloudy and you can’t see the sun.’
The boy picks up a basket on his father’s instruction.
‘So it’s not the contrails?’ the boy asks.
‘Nah, mate, they’d have gone ages ago,’ his father replies.
The boy walks alongside his father towards the entrance. But unlike his father, he takes a look back over his shoulder. He sees what his father said was a contrail. Penetrating through the white haze of an ‘overcast’ sky.
And the boy wonders. Wonders for ever more. But says nothing.
20 years later, the young boy is a man. With a child of his own. A boy. One who asks the same questions. Only to receive the same answers that his father was taught as a boy.
Thank you for reading.
**All pictures of the sky were taken by myself around different locations in Merseyside, North West England, between April and May 2016.**