The evening sky is indigo, shot through with streaks of crimson. The clamour of the crowd is omnipresent. A guide tries to shoo me, but my resolution sends him off, baffled. I know where and why I am here. She is about to sing.
She is old, but still beautiful. She sits still, quiet, seemingly asleep. Yet I can feel the energy in Her, the sheer power of Her voice. The crowd vanishes from my awareness – though I am surrounded by thousands, She and I are alone in the moment.
Then She stirs. She groans a bit, time taking its’ toll on her. She coughs a few times, and then … Music. No, more than that. Rapture. I am aware of the sound of Her, the smell of Her, and my heart vibrates to Her voice. Time stands still.
Then, She is done. All too quickly, with a tiny shudder and bit of a wheeze, She falls silent. This was just a rehearsal, a brief test of Her power. Yet it was magic, it was beauty, it was more than words can describe. She is relaxing now, seeming to doze off. But I can still feel that energy, that warmth, that magic She created. I walk away, left breathless, grinning from ear to ear. My wife shakes her head at me, but understands. My wife knows she married a guy who would always be drawn to that kind of lady. I give my wife a hug, but I look back as we walk away, knowing I’ll be back for more. And I can tell She knows, too, as a last wisp of her perfume wafts past. She knows I will always come back for more.
– – –
More than two decades ago, my wife and I used to travel to airshows to see WW2 warbirds. One evening at the Kalamazoo Air Zoo, I overheard that the crew of a P-47 Thunderbolt were about to turn the engine over. I immediately charged over, and stood just behind the left rear of her tail, waiting. A crowd control guy came over and warned me that the engine would create a lot of smoke, and I replied that I knew exactly what that big air-cooled radial would produce. and I was standing right where I wanted to be, on purpose. He looked at me like I’d grown a third arm, shook his head, and walked away muttering. Yes, I stood there while they fired up that 18-cylinder engine, and stood wrapped in the smoke as it belched its’ way into life. I didn’t leave until the prop had stopped turning, and yes, my wife was standing at a safe distance, grinning and shaking her head at my silliness. What can I say – how many times in my life was I going to get the chance to be THAT close to a (at that time) 50+ year old WW2 aircraft? I’ve been prop blasted by a B-17, a couple P-51s. several trainers, and a B-25 with whom I spent a romantic foggy night in Aurora, Illinois. But the P-47 was THE best …. um, prop-job? .. I have ever received.