Monday, April 6, 2009

Everyday Wonder

A couple of ordinary birds perch on one of the many rather design-challenged, late 20th Century street lamps that illuminate neighborhoods all over this country. These aren't the sort of birds that prompt people get out binoculars or guidebooks. (Or cameras.) But when my 3 year old daughter spotted them the other day, she said, "Look at those shiny birds sitting up there! How did they get so way up high? It's like magic!" And when you think about it -- really and truly think about it --it IS like magic. We've just gotten so used to everyday wonder, we no longer notice the thrill of simple miracles. Like shiny birds in flight. Or electric lights. Or deep blue skies.

In 1938, Thorton Wilder introduced Our Town -- a masterpiece of simplicity about two families experiencing everyday magic and universal human truths that are part of being alive on planet earth. Most of us have seen or read (or performed in a high school production of) the play. It's a thoughtful meditation about the theme of realizing life as you live it. It's about recognizing wonderful, ordinary things. (Like shiny, magic birds on a streetlamp.)

As Emily Webb says toward the end of the play, “Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you.”



Judy Williams said...

Two pigeons peering down making us wish we could be at their level, checking out the vastness of the world below.

Dixie Jane said...

I don't remember seeing pigeons perched high above. I see them on the ground looking for food near a restaurant My granddaughter is very observant. But what I do see all of the time are great line-ups of birds perched way up on a wire, all facing the same direction. I always wonder why some aren't faced the other way. Must not be much to converse about.

Margaret said...

Amazing. I was just thinking about Our Town last night. It really is so deceptively simple and so lovely.

Yakpate said...

The thing about ordinary pigeons... is their extraordinary iridescence. They may look gray from a distance, but up close, they wear rainbows around their necks!

At first glance I thought these might be mourning doves, but when I clicked to enlarge the shot those colors readily identified them as pigeons.

You are so right... when we look at the ordinary with fresh eyes, we see the magic.

Ken Mac said...

yesterday my girlfriend and I visited the old Hunt House in New Jersey. A 19th Century farm full of collapsing buildings. Giant vultures flying everywhere. Magical indeed!

altadenahiker said...

Your daughter is pretty shiny and magical, herself.

Kelly said...

Beautifully written, Laurie! I love those moments, and wish I wrote more of them down.

Ashley said...

Lovely post. I love writing that captures "everyday special" moments.

I never saw "Our Town" performed (anyone know of a good high school production coming up?) and have only read it. My visual of the play comes from television's "The Wonder Years" where Winnie plays the main role while Kevin does the stage lighting...

Hope said...

My children have taught me to look at the world in a whole new way! This is a beautifully written post. Your daughter is precious and very observant. What a blessing our children are to us!

Cafe Pasadena said...

Your daughter perspective illustrates just one reason why adults need to have children in their lives.

(As well as K9's, of course)

Virginia said...

As a homeless man told me, "Those are city birds". Yep.

sbuser said...

Your tome of the day is well thought out and well told.

Just as an aside I was at a race this weekend (spectator) and I look up on the lamp post at the may sea gulls perching on high. Then there was one sparrow. I notice he had a twig in his mouth and was going from lamp post to lamp post.

He always ended up at the same lamp post. Then I noticed he was building a nest in the open top of the pole.

The reason he was skitting from post to post was he was waiting for the seagulls to move on. He was apparently too timid to try to scare off his bigger realtive.

Nobody else noticed the going's on. I might well have missed it. But even if no one took notice, to the bird, it was the most important task in the world.

alex schaefer said...

beautiful commentary!

Laurie said...

Hi everyone,

Thanks for getting sentimental with me today. Who would have thought pidgeons could illicit such depth of emotion, right?

Judy, the view from this lamp post is probably stunning. I shot this in the hills near the telephone poles I posted a few weeks ago.

Dixie Mom, I've wondered about those birds all facing the same direction, too!

Margaret, sounds like we were catching each other's vibes. Your post about being kind to each other had me introspective to begin with.

Yak, I've always been fond of the lowly pidgeon. Their feathers look like abelone!

Ken, I'm off to scour your blog for pics of this vulture-laden magic place of which you speak!

Altadenahiker, yes. Yes she is. :-) Thanks for noticing.

Kelly, I think blogs are a great way to capture and remember these moments, don't you?

Ashley, how did I miss that episode of The Wonder Years? Winnie would have made a great Emily! I'm going to keep a look out for upcoming productions. I played Mrs. Gibbs in my senior production of this play and I'll always remember it.

Hope, I think the biggest shock of being a mom has been how much I forgot since I was a kid. We unlearn so much. It's great to have a child remind you of the way we should probably always look at the world around us. And especially the people in it. My daughter views things with such wonder and love and excitement. And fairness! I really do think fairness is a distinct human trait.

Cafe, I completely agree.

Virginia, they are city birds, huh? Complete with hard city stares!

Steve, what a great story! I hope the little fellow made a good nest and is warm and happy there tonight.

Thanks, Alex!

And thanks again, good people. Until tomorrow...

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite posts...The picture is okay, but the words fly.

Laurie said...

Thanks, Oleg!

Anonymous said...

Waaaw really amazing to see this..great photos..

This is pretty interesting...

Thanks for sharing..
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