I have dreamed of plane crashes ever since I was a kid. No doubt, in part, because we lived in an area so void of civilization that pilots used the air space over our farm as a practice field.
It was and still is where small plane pilots come to earn their wings. As the price of land continues to sky rocket and more quarters are sold off and more houses go up, perhaps all that might soon change. But for now the skies of Bessborough are where planes come to practice.
But back to the plane crashes, or my dreams thereof.
I have distinct memories of climbing on top of a haystack (this in an era of hand stacked square bales) and lying on my back so I could watch the small planes circle overhead.
Of particular interest was the engine stall.
The small slice of silver plane would abruptly cease its reassuring hum and come so close to the haystack that I could hear it whistling through the air as it fell towards the ground. Just when it seemed that it would surely end in an abrupt explosion in the horse pasture causing me to cast an anxious glance to see where Lady, my favourite horse, was standing it would roar back to life and nose its way back up to a comfortable cloud.
My favourite part was waving at the plane to get the pilot to tip its wings. The equivalent of the arm pump children do when they see a semi driving by, in the hopes of the trucker pulling the horn.
What a thrill to stand on the haystack waving my arms and have my small presence acknowledged with a gracious tip of the wing by some mysterious person up there in the wild blue yonder.
Looking back, my childhood was filled with summer afternoons spent in a world so wide that it felt like there was only me and the wannabe pilot overhead in the whole Peace River country. It was a fantastic place to grow up. Miles and miles of fields, bordering on the Kiskatinaw River and edged by the blue Rocky Mountains. You could explore all summer, which I did, and still never see it all. Which I haven’t.
I was lucky. I won the birth lottery, both in parents and in place.
The only nightmare was those planes taking a nose dive into the hay field. Or horse pasture. Or hay stack. I still have those dreams. Not every night, but usually two or three times a year. Only now they usually crash just below our lawn. And they’re bigger. In my adult dreams it is always a jet plane that bellies across our property.
“You should find out what it means,” my friend Moira told me.
“I think it means I have dreams about planes crashing,” I told her.
“Don’t be daft.” Moira shook her head so hard her dinner plate earrings ricocheted off her nose, as she dug through her suitcase-sized purse. “Dreams always mean something. Here, I have a book on it. Look it up. It will make you feel better.”
I flipped through Moira’s book, past dreams about air conditioners, finally stopping at airplanes. Under the subtitle “Crashed or wrecked plane” I read out the explanation.
“Worry about failure. Can be anxiety bringing down ambition or adventurousness. A loss of self confidence or mental equilibrium or a warning about a business project. Broken dreams and hopes.”
I looked up at Moira. “Wow.” I said. “I don’t feel better.”
Last night I had a dream that Moira’s earrings lit on fire like a pair of circus hoops.
I wonder what that might mean.
Shannon McKinnon will be away until the week of Oct. 10. In the meantime we hope you enjoy these previously published columns.