The Swift Current Airport Light

I grew up on a farm southwest of Swift Current, Saskatchewan. If I looked to the northeast on any night of my youth I would see a light sweep by on the horizon. The beam would pass in an instant and if I counted to ten it would appear again for another instant, then pass again into darkness. All night long. Every ten seconds.

I guess there must have been nights it was obscured by some sort of weather. A blizzard would certainly do the trick. But most nights, if you looked, you’d see it flicker past. Ten seconds later it would be there again. And then gone.

We had a kind of inside joke, us kids, when we were outside at night, maybe playing frozen tag in the yard. We’d say, “You can see the airport light from here,” and then we’d laugh. Or if we were swimming in or skating on the creek in the moonlight we’d say, “You can see the airport light from here.” And we’d laugh. Or if we were drinking beer around a campfire and a sort of awkward silence fell over the conversation, we’d say, “You can see the airport light from here.” And laugh.

It was funny because you could see the airport light from anywhere and everywhere in our world. Every night. Every ten seconds. It was certain. It was self-evident to the point of absurdity. It was something you could count on. Literally.

Time passed. I went away. I did some things. I accumulated some things and I lost a few things, including my hair.

And one day, though I must admit that I couldn’t even say exactly when, I returned to find the airport light was gone.

 

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