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Contrails, Before and After

We live only a few miles from Camp Roberts, a National Guard training base on the Central Coast of California. As a result, I see contrails almost every day. Contrails are made from the exhaust of jet engines condensing behind the planes as they fly. This condensed water vapor forms trails that are actually long clouds. While they last, they decorate the sky with the evidence of the jets’ passing over an area. As the sun sets, they can take on the colors of sunset. And then, before you know it, they have disappeared.

This article has two sets of photos. The first set has four photos taken facing north or northwest. The second set was taken facing south or southeast. I left for a short walk to the mailbox as the sun was beginning to set. I noticed the contrails and took some photos. Then I got the mail. When I returned a few minutes later, I took a few more photos. Look for the contrast between the photos taken before I left and after I got back.

#1 The Beginning, before my Walk

This photo was taken to the northwest. Notice the positions of the trees and chimney for later comparison. You can see the setting sun in the background to the west. This was taken before my walk began. 

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#2 The Long Contrails

The palm trees are across the street from the oak tree on the left. The contrails are in a north-south direction. They are still bright. This was also as I was starting off on my walk to the mailbox one long block away. 

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#3 Home Again!

I took this next photo when I returned from my walk. You can see that the contrails have almost faded away in a period of only a few minutes. 

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#4 Looking North after the Walk

This was also taken when I got back, looking toward the north, across the cross street. You can see the contrails from that direction fading away. The earth has moved a bit, but it looks as though it's the contrails that have moved north. You can see they are fading and some are taking on sunset colors. 

#5 First Photo of Set 2, Looking South

On the right is the oak tree. In this photo the contrails are on the other side of it. Instead of looking toward the north and the corner, I have turned to look straight down my street to the southeast.  This was taken before my walk. 

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#6 Looking Southeast

This was also taken as I left. Notice the moon  rising in the east. To get this photo I turned toward my own side of the street up to the south of my garage. 

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#7 Home from my Walk, Looking Southeast Again

This should be contrasted with the photo above, taken toward the same direction. You can see the position of the moon. Notice how the contrails are now only whisps in the sky. 

I began to think of the trail our lives leave behind after we are gone. How quickly our lives pass and are forgotten. They are ephemeral on this earth, which God brought into being by his Word. And the Bible says that only his Word lasts forever. 


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