Tuesday, October 20, 2009

something a bit out of the ordinary

I'm watching a feather. It's a gray-brown colour and very soft and tender. Surely it sprouted on the most tender part of a great bird's body, perhaps under its wings in the ticklish spot. When the feather was born, it was sheltered in a nest of other soft fluffy gray-brown feathers, nurtured all snuggly and cuddly, barely feeling the wind that rustled its bigger aunts and uncles as the great bird swept through the sky on a great voyage or two.

Snuggled tight in with hundreds of its relatives, this feather could relax and stay warm, and confidently enjoy knowing that it kept the great bird's body warm, too. Because the great bird was warm, it could go high high in the air, to the coldest layers of the atmosphere. Or it could sweep low over the sea, where water sprayed back up. The team of feathers kept the great bird from reeling in the shock of those water droplets. As a team, the feathers shared the impact and none felt too cold either.

Eventually, this bit of fluff became the biggest most prominent gray-brown feather of the clan. When the great bird lifted its great wings to swoop down from a tree or a mountain, my feather could stick its head out from among the other feathers and feel the wind rustling through each of its soft downy plumes. It loved the feeling of freedom as it held hands with the other feathers, pushing up with all its might to catch the full weight of the wind.

Up and higher it pushed, leaning on the support of its tight and plumy family, unable to get enough of the fresh air. It became addicted to the wind: whenever the great bird would take off, the feather would stand tall, sticking out as far as possible past the other feathers.

Then one day, it was pushing, straining, leaning its highest plumes back and laughing in the beauty of the wind and the sun. It shook its head to feel even more wind, and - pluck! - it too was flying. The feather was flying, just like the bird. It never knew the wind could be so powerful and frigid, yet absolutely invigorating. It leaned back on the wind as if it was an easy chair and floated for a bit. Then it plucked up and pretended to surf. After practising windsurfing a bit, it started twirling like an ice skater, around and around and around, twirling faster with each turn.

The feather was so joyous in its pure enjoyment of the purest expression of nature that it didn't even notice that the great bird continued its flight, taking the feather's entire family with it. By the time the excitement of the feather's first flight began to fade, the great bird was nowhere in sight.

Swish! The feather had been sitting up peering in the direction it last remembered the great bird going, when it was jerked by the wind in the opposite direction. This was fun! Like a roller-coaster, the wind whisked the feather off down towards the ground, faster than the feather ever remembered moving. Even though the great bird moved very fast, the feather had never before felt such speed because fluffy feathers always stayed sheltered under the bird's great wings.

Then whoosh! The roller-coaster ride ended as abruptly as it started, and the wind started to lift the feather slowly higher, higher, higher, to the sky. As it floated up, the feather peered to the horizon in each direction. Still no sign of the great bird or its fellow feathery family.

Soon the feather was being rushed along, parallel to the ground, so hard it felt like it was going to be pound against a wall, but the wall never came. This was fun! But where was the great bird?

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