Crossing the line

Things look different from above. On a recent flight I captured four river crossings under exceptional lighting and skies. Three of those rivers form the boundaries between six different US states. Rivers form boundaries.

I’m fond of the way the Arkansas River separates the snowy fields East of Little Rock from the snow-free city. While other features fade away with distance the reflection of the sun on the water makes the river stand out far longer than anything else.

Above Springer, New Mexico
Canadian River Canyon, New Mexico

On my way back eastward I passed the Canadian River, the longest tributary of the Arkansas River shown above. You don’t simply cross the canyon; it separates what lies on one side from what lies on the other. Canyons form boundaries.

As we approached Chicago the clouds came in and separated the land from the air. A cleft poked through the cover above what I presume was either a river or a storm front. Nobody from the ground could see us and all we could see was the dim glow of cities diffused through the vapor. We would still descend through the void but from twenty or thirty thousand feet it may as well have been impenetrable. Clouds form boundaries.

Clouds like eagles
Clouds as eagles

Clouds as eagles spread over Chicago. The storm establishes itself as a moving wall. We wait until it passes to go through it or we navigate around it. Columns of hot air gush up through planes of coolness; vapor condenses, collects, falls, and freezes. Storms form boundaries.


Pushing through the barrier is to bridge two worlds. We are neither in nor out, neither calm nor storm, neither day nor night. But under the clouds, under the clouds we get clarity once more and the storm subsides to peace and inspiration.

Chicago at night

The city lights abruptly end. Inside the amber scurry millions. Outside the pitch black demarcates the “reserve,” the area where nature is allowed to thrive in quarantine behind the concrete. Cities form boundaries.

Chicago on approach over Lake Michigan

As we make our final approach we hook over Lake Michigan – no transition from land to water. One foot firm on the dirt and the other knee-deep in water. Shorelines form boundaries.

On the Chicago expresswayJourneys in the air start and end on the ground. Across these six lanes of highway no person nor animal of size may pass. Cars and trucks zoom past giving nary a gaze at the towers which strive to break into the sky. Roads form boundaries.

On my flight I saw inspiring views from unusual perspectives. Our perspectives form boundaries too. Planes cross boundaries just as the boundary mountains do; from the air I appreciate them all. We build boundaries and we discover boundaries. Boundaries protect and boundaries threaten. Boundaries differentiate. Boundaries separate. Good or bad, respected or crossed, I’m glad boundaries stand between us and between worlds – I’m glad they challenge, they tempt, they inspire. I don’t want to live where it’s flat.

Colors boundaries

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