The perfect X

By Maria Montalvo | Jun 04, 2010

A few weeks ago, two clouds above Edmonds criss-crossed to create a perfect “X”.

It did not seem like a plausible contrail pattern from a Boeing pilot, and it was definitely not your typical cirrus or stratus cloud formation.  It certainly seemed, driving along streets near Yost Park, that the proverbial “X” was marking Edmonds as the proverbial spot.

When I typed “X-shaped contrail” into the multiple search engines that have become our go-to knowledge sources (as opposed to, say, professors, scientists, and experts in their fields), I read about the CIA efforts to cover military aircraft operations with faux clouds and learned that similar shapes were seen over Oklahoma and Kansas in 1994.

In 1999, sightings in Seattle and in 39 states, were attributes to the Air Force spraying chemicals or jet fuel into the air for a variety of nefarious reasons, depending on the source. 

The mysterious X’s described on the internet were followed by symptoms in nearby towns from a loss of appetite to full-fledged illness. I hoped to find stories of unknown entities drawing our attention to something or someone special here in our little town. Something wonderful at the base of the X, like at the base of a rainbow?

Then again, Edmonds often, even regularly, displays things that cannot be imagined. The skies over the Olympics and Puget Sound create colors and shapes that beg to be photographed by amateurs and show up in the exhibits and books of artists.

Every night, the sun sets in a different place between Whidbey Island and along the Olympic peninsula.

Sometimes, orcas visit our shores, as do sea lions, seals, otters, and even porpoises.

Looking out over the Sound, the water can be as smooth as an ice skating rink or tumble so high and fast that the white caps look like they are only a few feet away.

Somehow boats (sailboats, cruisers, Navy boats, fishing boats, yachts, etc.) are out in all seasons and kinds of weather, every day providing even more photo opportunities for those of us who are lucky enough to be here to experience it.

Those two clouds in the sky that marked our town seemed to highlight all of this—the skies, the water, the mountains—all of the things that make Edmonds a pretty special spot.

Looking at the world from here, it makes it easy to forget the images of the oil washing up on other shores, easy to forget the 13% of Americans who live in poverty, and the 4.7 million seniors and 3 million children who don’t have enough food to eat.

And it is especially easy to overlook that this hunger, poverty, and concerns about clean water are also right here in Edmonds, at the base of the “X”.

The beauty of this town may defy reality at times. Perhaps we have a greater responsibility, then, to act when the truth comes rushing in because we can still look around and feel a little bit better.


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