Out walking in the morning, I’ve noticed feathers. Lots of feathers. Yes, it is generally molting season, but I also am a believer in Sidewalk Oracles (from the book title by Robert Moss) and began to wonder why I was seeing so many of them.
The first thing I did what pick up a few. Delicate, beautiful, fragile. Walking while sweating isn’t great for feathers, but I got them home, dried them, and pasted them into my journal.
Right now the journal is a Travelers Notebook, and the pages (currently, the kraft color) wrinkle with glue. What started as a delicate reminder of fragility ended as a mess on a wrinkled page. The glue wrinkled the paper, the feathers pulled and it looked, well, disappointing.
Lesson learned, but noticing the feathers meant more. And then, finally, I figured it out: feathers are lovely and fragile.
The ones I saw were caught in thorn bushes. (In Arizona, everything has thorns. Even orange trees.) They are fragile because they are caught in thorn bushes and not destroyed. What destroys them is taking them home and gluing them in a journal.
Not everything needs to be pulled from the earth, moved into a dedicated page and glued down. Some things (ideas, people, writing, art) thrives when it is admired for the joy it brings and left alone. Some things thrive from being transient–from fluttering on a thorn bush–to leave their message of transience, of resilience, of beauty at a certain time of year.
Photos capture this transience without ruining it. Sometimes, controlling small items, even feathers, ruins them. Learning what you can from beauty and walking away is a lesson in itself.
Here is an entire landscape composed of a small feather, some irrigation overrun, and a reflection.
—Quinn McDonald is a writer, writing trainer and coach, who walks every morning and notices sidewalk oracles. ©Quinn McDonald, 2017. All rights reserved.