Miracle. All of it.

The bar-headed goose can fly at almost thirty thousand feet, allowing it to migrate over the Himalayas before sweeping south. Pairs of them have been spotted over Mount Makalu, the fifth-highest mountain on earth. In certain villages the birds are caught and the names of the dead are written in dark ink on the underside of the birds’ bellies. The geese are said to bring news of the dead to the heavens.

~ Colum McCann, Apeirogon: A Novel (Random House, February 25, 2020)


Notes:

  • Bar Headed-Goose Photo: “Bar-Headed Geese Slow Their Metabolism to Soar over Everest” from the Scientist
  • Post title Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

Feel that sway…

As a boy, Picasso liked to draw by candlelight.

He had already intuited that the moving shadows cast by the light would instill a feeling of sway in his work.

~ Colum McCann, Apeirogon: A Novel (Random House, February 25, 2020)


Photo: John Taylor

Riding Metro North. With El ConVirus.

El ConVirus.

Platforms sparse.

Wide berth between waiting commuters.

Subways with empty seats during Peak hours.

Hands tentatively reaching for hand rails, door handles.

Hand shakes replaced with knuckle bumps and elbow touches. Followed by Smirks. The new greeting code.  Disquiet.

Travel curtailed, discontinued. Conferences cancelled.  Large meetings shifted to conference calls.

Corporates scrambling to pull together Business Continuity Plans. First one, then two, then more work from home, with sniffles, with flu, with Something.

Fear spreading like Bay Area fog.

I twist in my earbuds, fire up Audible Books on Tape, and settle in for the commute home.

75% through Colum McCann’s Apeirogon.  “Apeirogon, a polygon having an infinite number of sides...Combing the signals like moisture from the air.”

A cough. A sneeze. Duck for cover.

Combing the signals like moisture from the air.

 


Photo: Pierre Bacus via Aberrant Beauty

Miracle. All of it.

The frigatebird is dark and stealthy, with a hooked beak and a deeply forked tail. It belongs to the family of seabirds found in tropical and subtropical oceans. Their wings can span up to eight feet. They cannot dive beneath water or even rest on its surface since their feathers will absorb moisture and they will drown. They are known to swoop beneath cumulus clouds where the rising currents of warm air pull them into the heart of the vapor. In the currents they simply open their wings as if in the tube of a sky vacuum, a thunderous swirl of air. As they ascend they sometimes sleep. They are hauled upwards, thousands of feet, like hollow-boned gods through the narrowing gyre. High in the air they finally break from the current and flap out of the envelope of cloud. For a moment the buffer shakes them, but then the turbulence ends. In the still air they can glide horizontally downwards for up to forty miles without even flapping, finishing often with an annihilating drop. While still in flight, they stay alive by robbing other seabirds for food, or skimming the ocean surface for fish and squid, snatching their prey from the water with their long razor-sharp bills.

A frigatebird can stay aloft for two whole months without touching down on either land or water…

~ Colum McCann, Apeirogon: A Novel (Random House, February 25, 2020)

 


Photo: Sian Ka’an

Sunday Morning

One of the earliest texts on the eye—its structure, its diseases, its treatments—Ten Treatises on Ophthalmology, was written in the ninth century by the Arab physician Hunayn ibn Ishaq. The individual components of the eye, he wrote, all have their own nature and they are arranged so that they are in cosmological harmony, reflecting, in turn, the mind of God.

~ Colum McCann, Apeirogon: A Novel (Random House, February 25, 2020)


Photo: A Photographer’s Eye, Nicholas Nixon

Driving I-95 N. Free the Bird in the Net.

Cervical spondylosis, was his diagnosis. December 19th. And the start of 30 days of physical therapy.

And a maniacal routine of daily stretching exercises. And tracking the activity on an IOS App. Because that’s how Obsessive’s roll.

The slow heal arrives. Then Relief.  And the bliss of pain-free days. Ah yes, Youth returns. A few days of lolling in Full Gratitude…I’m as Good as new!

This is followed by the suspension of physical therapy. The total cessation of daily stretching supplements. And the IOS App is dumped into a folder with other apps left to Die.

Then we have a slow roll back to habits, to Life, to Work, and The Return to Sedentary World.

It’s late yesterday afternoon. The commute home. I gently turn my neck to check for traffic in my blind spot, and find its motion restricted, followed by a lightning dart down the shoulder and down the arm. It’s back. Heaviness sets in – Mood darkens.

I return my attention to traffic, and sit frozen in place. Puffs of breath working to provide relief.

And, I replay The Week Day. [Read more…]

get up ya bowsies /  and clean out your cells

What time of day do you write?

There’s an Irish song written by Brendan Behan that goes: In the early mornin’ /  the screws were bawling /  get up ya bowsies /  and clean out your cells. Well, that’s how I feel in the early morning: Get up, ya bowsie. I want to get up before the small mundanities and the stupidities and the prison guards of the Internet. Clean out my cell. Or my cells. Get the words down on paper. A perfect day for me begins in the dark before anyone else has woken, say 4:30 or 5 am. Two hours or so of this. In the quiet. And then, when the house begins to stir, the rest of my life will too. But for a small parcel of early morning hours, I feel entirely free. And then I go out and walk the dog.

~ Colum McCann, from “Colum McCann on Ulysses, Mary Lavin, and Drinking with John Berger” (Literary Hub, February 25, 2020)


Notes: Thank you Sawsan for sharing.

Above us. Now.

The birds are tracked by sophisticated radar set up along the migratory routes all over the country—Eilat, Jerusalem, Latrun… The Ben Gurion offices are high-tech, dark-windowed. Banks of computers, radios, phones. A team of experts, trained in aviation and mathematics, tracks the patterns of flight: the size of the flocks, their pathways, their shape, their velocity, their height, their projected behavior in weather patterns, their possible response to crosswinds, siroccos, storms. Operators create algorithms and send out emergency warnings to the controllers and to the commercial airlines.

Another hotline is dedicated to the Air Force. Starlings at 1,000 feet north of Gaza Harbor, 31.52583°N, 34.43056°E. Forty-two thousand sandhill cranes roughly 750 feet over southern edge of Red Sea, 20.2802°N, 38.5126°E. Unusual flock movement east of Akko, Coast Guard caution, storm pending. Projected flock, Canada geese, east of Ben Gurion at 0200 hours, exact coordinates TBD. Pair of pharaoh eagle-owls reported in trees near helicopter landing pad B, south Hebron, 31.3200°N, 35.0542°E.

The ornithologists are busiest in autumn and spring when the large migrations are in full flow: at times their screens look like Rorschach tests.

~ Colum McCann, Apeirogon: A Novel (Random House, February 25, 2020)


Photo: Sandhill Cranes by journey ej

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