Saturday, March 8, 2014

Noticing Dead Birds and Numbers in Trees

On my way out of my classroom building everyday I walk towards a set of tall glass windows that are adjacent to the doorway. In the bushes outside the window as I was leaving one day, I noticed a bird which seemed to be suspended in flight.  The dead bird seems to be caught in the dead branches, but its wing is outstretches. The rest of the body is hard to make out and at first I thought it couldn't be a bird; it must just look like a bird.

I'm curious how the bird ended up like this. I'm even more curious how many people notice this bird that is only about a foot away from a heavily trafficked hall and entranceway.

When I asked some of my students if they'd seen the bird, they said they hadn't, though I've been fascinated with it every day for weeks. It takes me a few minutes to pack up all my class materials and lock the classroom door after the students have left, so perhaps I see it because my view is not blocked by the crowd.

The surprise of seeing this bird right outside the window reminds me of our retired photography instructor's thoughts on seeing and being aware of one's surroundings. There is a tree near the entrance to his building that has a mark on the surface that seems to form half a heart shape when you look at it from the right angle. He liked to point it out to students in his class and ask if any of them had ever seen it. Usually they hadn't.

Yesterday, on our way to a reception at Larson Gallery, my daughter pointed up in the air over the bookstore and said, excitedly, "nineteen!" It took me a moment to realized that she was pointing at three long seedpods hanging from a branch over the building. One of the seedpods had curved across the other to form the shape of a number nine. It was backwards, but still, she noticed the number shape. As a kid learning to read, she is always pointing out numbers and letters in fallen sticks, pavement cracks and tree branches, so I was relatively well prepared for her exclamation this time.

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