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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


One of my favorite sights is a bird resting on the tip-top spike of a fir or a spruce. Today it was a goldfinch on a spruce, an average though lively bird, a smallish, average, slightly droopy tree. The finches fly in and out of tree branches all day, and I'm trying not to impute too much poetry to those few minutes at the top of their world, but it happens more frequently than chance would assign, and I can't help but think that it is, at the very least, joyful. Hummingbirds do it too.

Two ordinary things, in a kind of heroic display. Let me insert a dash into today's title and wonder for a moment about the amazement of ordinary things. The Latinate meaning of "extra" is of course "out of" or "outside of," but I'm slightly obsessed these days with an alternate, more earthy meaning, i.e., "an additional helping" of the ordinary. You know, of course, that I mean natural ordinary things, not spoons or phones or dust bunnies or socks, although they too have a certain stolid utility, and maybe even beauty if you squint or imagine their molecules. Only natural ordinary things have the suppleness and complexity I crave, the extra-strength simplicity to stand up against wars and disasters and ennui. They are what they are, and yet they move and evolve and provide the comfort of fellow living things. Today I must say that blue sky (at last) and warm temperatures and the chance to spend most of the day on the deck or in the garden has made the ordinary things around me that much more special. But even the gray of fog and mist is a color, and a quiet and contemplative one, and is indistinguishable from blue in the eye of a sun or a moon or a god, as are that yellow finch in a tree and that pale human in a chair.

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