We take our sky for granted. It hangs above our heads, overlooked. We live in it, we move in it, we breathe it in.
It blows and flows and churns. It transforms into random clouds that bubble and swirl. It thickens to obscure our vision, then clears to reveal a dome of blue. It can be fiery red or leaden grey, sometimes both. It's a layer of beauty, a mantle of life.
It regulates our lives. We rise when it brightens and we fade when it goes dark. It protects and nurtures us. We'd freeze without it, yet we'd fry without it. Sometimes, with ice or rain or electricity, it attacks us without warning. And other times, just when we've taken it for granted once more, it kicks back and reminds us of its power.
It doesn't take much to knock our sky off kilter. A few too many power stations, a lot too many cars, and its atoms inexorably heat up. A shroud of smoke, a dearth of sun, and instant cooling kicks in. When nuclear fallout is expected, it's the sky that kills you. And a singlevolcano, with the wind in the wrong direction, can bring everything to a standstill.
We thought we'd conquered the sky, but a single Icelandic fissure proved us wrong. We thought cross-country travel was a short hop, but we've been firmly land-locked. We thought a tube with wings could connect us to anywhere in the world, but we've been uncompromisingly grounded. We made plans, and assumed connections, but a billion ash particles dashed those dreams. Our sky has rejected us, and it could be days, weeks or even months before the Earth lets us have it back.
We're trapped on the surface, staring up at some obstruction we can't even see. We've been swept back to an era before flight, an age of awe and incapacity. Maybe we won't take the sky quite so much for granted in the future, not after Eyjafjallajoekull's done its worst. But honestly, after all these centuries of waiting for a plume in the right place and the wind in the right direction, wasn't the sunset a bloody disappointment?