What you miss by flying

Elizabeth May

I am enjoying the third trip this month by rail between Nova Scotia and Ontario. I take the train to avoid carbon emissions from flying, but I also take the train because it is such an entirely superior experience.

You know where you are (bioregionally). Coming from Montreal to the Maritimes, you wake up in the Acadian forest of New Brunswick. By lunch you are passing through one of the great migratory staging areas for Atlantic waterfowl, the Tantramar marshes. The scenery is endlessly changing. And you notice the seasons.

All flights have a sameness. The uniformity is only broken by occasional terror. Forced landings for medical emergencies. “Rough air” turbulence that leaves you white knuckled and grateful to reach ground anywhere. All city airports feel the same. All carry the same atmosphere of stress, worry and hurry. The lengthening of days passes without notice in the florescent lit world of cavernous, sleek and incredibly monotonous airports.

I am now aware of how I have missed the view of the Baie de Chaleur through the fall and winter and their shorter days. It is near dusk and tourists press against the glass for a view of the last glimpse of scenic Atlantic Canada. We will wake up outside Montreal and the sight of the Great Blue Heron soaring over the Baie will seem long ago.

I am trying to work on my new book (Global Warming for Dummies, with co-author Zoe Caron) but I keep getting distracted by the view (sorry Zoe!). Perhaps when the light fades completely I can get some work done….