WILLIAMSTOWN — The man who introduced scores of people to the thrills and beauty of near-silent flight over the Berkshires and southern Vermont died last week after an accidental fall at his home in Stamford, Vt.

Brooks Ellison was 68.

I met Brooks in elementary school — probably in third grade, but it could have been earlier. Third grade sticks in my memory because it was when I realized that there were kids my age who were as bad at math as I was.

One of those kids was Brooks. He was, I now believe, much better with numbers than I. Perhaps his work as a builder eased the relationship in later life, but in school he had less trouble with the authorities over math than I did. I think this was because his approach to math problems — and to problems with math as a required subject — was sunny and optimistic, whereas mine was … not.

Brooks became a master hang-glider pilot and instructor. He used his radiant optimism to encourage his pupils to take their first running leaps off hills and mountains to be taken and held aloft by a light frame and gossamer wings. Time after time, he accomplished a rare feat: tapping unknown reserves of confidence and courage in others.

In the air, Brooks was in his element. We talked a couple of years ago and the subject of bald eagles came up. Brooks described a recent flight that had taken him well into central Vermont. He had reversed course and was gliding south over the foothills of the Green Mountains toward a favored landing spot when he found himself flying nearly wing-to-wing with a group of bald eagles. The birds, apparently curious, stayed with him for a considerable distance. That’s the picture of Brooks I’ll keep always: flying with eagles, headed home.

Who took all the bottled onions?

The appearance of substantial gaps on supermarket shelves seems not to have unduly rattled consumers, although it annoys them a bit. Symptoms of serious unease, such as door-crowding panic purchases of items in bulk, have not been widely reported.

That’s reassuring, but the supply situation has deteriorated in several areas deemed essential in at least one household: this one, for instance.

Leading the list here is the stash of Holland onions, those ping-pong ball sized things packed in jars. A managerial oversight resulted in the under-purchase of the little guys in late summer, when they seem to languish on the topmost shelves with canned vegetables as their immediate downstairs neighbors.

Experience has taught that Halloween is a reasonable deadline for laying them in because colder temperatures, shorter hours of daylight and other factors impel Thanksgiving-minded strategists to grab two, three, even four jars.

We missed it, and a recent trip to the market revealed a vacancy in the Holland onion precinct. With confidence that repeated return visits will bear fruit — or, better yet, Holland onions — before the holiday, we bought plenty of heavy cream.

It was this purchase that put me in mind of World War II rationing, which was in effect from May of 1942 until early 1946. It’s a guess, but I doubt we would have been able to easily lay our hands on either Holland onions or cream.

Repeated trips to the store would almost certainly be out of the question, since the gasoline ration limit imposed on most drivers was three gallons a week.

Also subject to rationing were fuel oil, coal, firewood, nylon, silk and shoes.

D. R. “Dusty” Bahlman can be reached by mail c/o The Berkshire Eagle, 75 South Church St., Pittsfield, MA 01201 or by email at notesandfootnotes39@gmail.com.