They fall, spinning like bright snowflakes, screaming neon colored snowflakes. I stand on the ground outside the local parachuting school; I’ve got someone’s 89 square foot “dishcloth”, sweating profusely as I lie on my stomach, violently trying to stuff it into its bag. I roll on my side, deciding that it needs to be re-packed for safety’s sake; the plane roars overhead, barreling back onto the runway. Manifest screams, “Otter load in 20”, their talking about their next group of jumpers, I finally manage to stuff the so called “tiny” parachute into its pack properly, just as the last of the jumpers land. I look around, not to concern at the moment, and tired from my 6:30 am arrival. It’s a hazy and cool day, probably my fifth there. When something expected happens, one of the jumpers gets stuck in a tree, just off to the south end of the landing area. There he hangs, wiggling like a worm on a hook, over the small stream that boarders the field. I poke my head around the corner and watch him drop rather gracefully onto the ground, about twenty feet down. He turns, looking at he wrecked rig, hand on his head, the other at his side. I scuttle over to the little golf-cart the school has, stopping only to snatch a few tools from the shed. I ramble lightly in the cart across the rut filled field, jumping out to help extract the mangled nylon piece that remains in the tree. The chute is bright red with yellow cords hanging from it. I scale the closest tree, attempting to gently un-snag the equipment, its snug and I have to cut its capturing branch. It falls, ruined, all the while no one talks, and no one is really concerned at all. Dimes, my “Rig Master” coolly comments, “It’s ruined”, and with the enthusiasm one might use to comment on soiled socks. We throw the remainder of the rig into the cart and I drive us back to the shed. I leave the harness and its reserve on the closest table as Dimes cares for the ruined half. Just then it strikes me just how alike human aviators are to their natural counterparts in demeanor. They are quick to move, exhilarated to fly, and unconcerned by anything that happens on the ground. I wonder if it’s from fatigue or if we land bound humans are just that mundane compared to the thrill the sky has to offer. I look back over my shoulder, watching the next round of parachutist’s land with soft thumps behind me, imagining what it’s like to fly.
May 25, 2010