Friday, February 20, 2009

things I noticed (Feb 15th-22nd)

The length and ropey flexibility of its neck, the swan floating with its wings comfortably arched like a cool rhetorical question, its rough beaking at bread from the palm of my hand, and how it soused the bread in the water before eating it.

How a coot in a hurry is semi air-borne, it flaps its wings but also splashes its dangling feet through the water, making a lot of noise.

Disorienting engulfment like a hot flush, the shadow and the wing-whirr of a thousand starlings.

Green twigs on a sapling, I thought it was spotted with crustaceous yellow lichen for a moment - then saw that this was the flowers - field-maple.

Silhouette of elm branches bobbled with flowers, vaguely recalling the cones in a larch-bough.

Viburnums.

A woodpigeon show-off trick, clapping the tips of its wings repeatedly beneath its body as it dangerously loses height (kind of like commando press-ups).

(A mother mallard will beat its wings on the water to scurry its fledgelings away from danger - but this is not a February memory.)

Pale pinheads on the branches of blackthorn and Pissard's Plum.

A barn owl nearly hitting my windscreen - they fly very low over the tops of hedges.

*

A pre-linguistic child in a push-chair eagerly pointing. The family look up - oh, Charlie's seen a bird on a hanging basket. After perfunctory admiration of the child having done anything at all, everyone loses interest.

One way of understanding this is that young children have a pre-cultural recognition that just about the most interesting and important fact about existence is that we share it with creatures of other kinds. (If they do have this insight, it must be pre-cultural since the cultural message from their elders is patently designed not to enforce this belief but to weaken it: - these other creatures are not really of much importance (except as the distant source of juicy collops in plastic); when you learn to talk you'll understand that they are quite a disappointing lot.)

A second way of understanding it is that the child has already - culturally - been encouraged to embrace the soft comforts of small soft toys, the only beings that are smaller than itself, and it's interested in animals because it supposes they are the same sort of thing as the toys in its pram.

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