Thursday, February 09, 2006

The oral oddities of tiny birds.

Today I played peekaboo with two different birds over the course of the day. I found the first one on my way home from the post office before my afternoon class; I was walking along when suddenly I heard a small peep peep, and so I stopped by the side of the road and peered up, trying to dissociate a peeping something from the skyscratching branches along the roadside. Finally, I glimpsed the movement of a birdbeak. And I swear the grey bird to which the beak belonged was peeping around a branch, watching me watch it. Just then, a truck pulled out of a dorm parking lot, and the bird flew away. Nothing beautiful stays around for long.

Today was almost excruciatingly cold, maybe even colder-feeling than it would hav
e been had the sun not been so brilliant. As I walked to the post office (again; it's a center of my life, really) after my afternoon class, to mail back the version of my new lap suit that isn't brilliant yellow, I saw that the daffodils in front of our public affairs office have grown enough that they have buds starting to swell out at the tops of their stems. I didn't have my camera, so I wasn't able to photograph them for you. But I think I would have felt awful about photographing them anyhow, and here's why:

I know very well that the pathetic fallacy is just that: a fallacy. When I project things onto the world, I know they're not really there. I know better than to believe some of the things I think, like: "These spring flowers that have sprung before their time and are now going to get mercilessly cut down by the indifferent brutality of winter's resurgence--these flowers are actually signs that I too have gotten ahead of myself, that I'm trying to let a wee shoot be too much, too soon, in the face of too much danger, again, even after all these years." When the weather turns sharp and cold, that turn has nothing to do with my needing to learn a lesson, if lesson there is to be learned. It's just a turn in the weather. And yet, probably because of what I do for a living, I see signs everywhere, and the fact that I know signs are arbitrary--that they're made up of meanings and (for lack of a better word) meaners, things signified and things signifying, and that those pairs aren't really ever locked into one another securely or lastingly--doesn't mean that I can discount every false signification that I feel during the course of a cold walk home.

The past few nights, going to bed has simply been difficult, not because I wouldn't fall asleep immediately but because I haven't been able to force myself up to my bed in the first place. Too many short nights in a row are starting to wear on me now--hence the darkening musings, following so fast upon the fleeting loveliness of the day's first peeking bird.

I saw the second peekaboo bird on my way home f
rom class, and this one was a nuthatch hopping about on yet another roadside tree, seeking out foodstuffs and paying me absolutely no mind; I was the only one playing peekaboo, in other words. This second bird was making soft little bird-grunts as it moved around. They were almost coos, but they were so perfectly keyed to the exertions the bird was making to get around on the tree and pick away at it with its beak that perhaps they were more like "oufs"--ouf ouf ouf, up up up, ouf ouf ouf, over over over. Another car pulled out of another parking lot, but this bird was too busy with its foraging to fly away.

What I was striding home from was my second day of discussing Jane Eyre with my afternoon class. Because the day dawned in a strange way--I woke up a good half-hour before my alarm was due to go off, even though I had gotten to bed late, thereby suggesting to me that I'm actually developing a wake-up time--I felt a bit giddy in the early stages of the day's reading, and so I started collecting great lines from the second quarter of Bronte's novel (I'll italicize every other one so that you can tell them apart--these are all direct quotes):
a decent quiescence, under the freak of manner, gave me advantage.
she is not bright, she has no talents; yet in a short time she has made much improvement.
you had rather the look of another world.
she is bursting with repletion.
you stick a sly penknife under my ear!
your agent has called and wishes to see you.
I was arranging a point with my destiny.
My thin crescent-destiny seemed to enlarge; the blanks of existence were filled up.
Her appearance always acted as a damper to the curiosity raised by her oral oddities.
Today was also one of those days where one of my students, in the middle of a presentation, got so worked up about the indignities of his historical material that another student cautioned him, only half-jokingly, not to cry. While my heart swells every time that happens, I also worry that I don't help them find places for their new anger to go.

And now, this day, which began giddily and developed nicely (though coldly, and a wee bit worriedly) before dead-ending in a thoroughly, frustratingly static evening about which I can't even write (and which absolutely did make me miss the second week in a row of Dancing with the Stars, damnit), simply needs to come to a close, arbitrarily, now.

Don't forget to vote (comma) yo. ModFab reports that 150 votes were submitted today alone.

source for today's images: A site dedicated to Thomas Bewick and his various works; I've chosen images from his History of British Birds, over which Jane Eyre pores early in the novel bearing her name.


Blogger Poking-Stick Man said...

I am utterly delighted -- for reasons that I'm sure you can imagine -- by the bird that makes "ouf ouf ouf" noises. I am less delighted -- quite sorry, in fact -- to hear that a day that started out with such avian promise has ended with frustration and displeasure.

If it's any consolation, I've already put in my vote for you on modfab.

10:50 PM, February 09, 2006  

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