Saturday, December 08, 2007

Feathers from the Sky, and Lions that Roar

I was glancing out the front window a moment ago when I saw a tiny cloud of pale objects come floating to earth in our driveway. A few of them were spinning as they fell and I thought they were some kind of seed pods and went out to look. They weren’t seeds. They were feathers, mostly soft, downy underfeathers. I counted a few dozen scattered in a thin mosaic over the gravels.

Naturally I looked up. But saw nothing. Where did they come from? My guess is that a hawk hit a dove in midair and the feathers were torn free. I have no idea if the dove survived. The fact that there were a lot of feathers and that many were underfeathers suggests maybe not.

It was odd that I looked out at just the right moment to see the feathers settle. It makes you wonder how many dramas like this happen every day and no one observes. It’s sheer luck if we even observe the aftermath, like those feathers raining down.

It occurred to me that reading a novel is a bit like this experience. What a reader sees on the page is the aftermath of events played out in the writer’s head. The drama in the book isn’t real. The drama that took place in the writer’s mind as he or she constructed the story is the reality.

In other news, Church Lady picked me and several others for “A Roar of Powerful Words” award from The Shameless Lions Writing Circle. How cool! Thank you, Church Lady! “Let’s Discuss.”


Lana Gramlich said...

Those feathers were funky, baby. Congrats on the blog award! :)

LoveRundle said...

This was a really deep thought and now I'm thinking about that. It's true, we don't witness the many things that happen around us. You painted a lovely picture with the feathers.

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...


I would have loved to see that, although the death of a dove would sadden me. When i first read this I was reminded of that weird yellowish spots you took a shot of in your yard. Even figure out what that was?

I think in life we feel like we do not have enough time to notice things such as these or that it is so rare that it does occur it would only be someone else that would get the chance to enjoy it.

Maybe it was a blessing.... shame you didn't get a shot of it. nice post altogether.

soft love,

Bernita said...

"It makes you wonder how many dramas like this happen every day and no one observes"
So true!
And such moments provide small epiphanies.
It's an odd thought that all fiction is essentially backstory.
You truly deserve the Award.

virtual nexus said...

I've been thinking about the idea that reading is a step removed from experience - but as you pointed out its subtly more than that.

Do you know more about trees if you read about them in a book, or if you spend time walking in a forest??

Congratulations on the award. I've just been over on S's blog and it looks like mention of the Lions has now reached 14,000 blogs, if the search is accurate.

I enjoyed the clashing riders and the malevolent trees. Great stuff.

Chris Eldin said...

A surreal story. I can only imagine standing there, wondering what you're looking at, then having it dawn on you....

A few years ago I'm getting out of the car and I notice a flash of white in our backyard. I go into the house and look outside-my husband is running around the yard with holding a sheet over his head. So I stand and watch. After a few minutes, he throws the sheet on the ground and scoops something up. He walks into the house with a big smile on his face. He has captured a dove which was molting its feathers.
Kids are excited. "Mommy, mommy! Can we keep him?!"
We take care of the dove (which we named Destiny) for about a week in our basement. When it starts to fly again, DH sets it free.
Feathers were scattered about our basement for a while after that.

Feathers are a symbol of good luck to Native Americans.

Michelle's Spell said...

That's very cool about the award! As for looking out the window, I think that's what I do most of my writing life -- I love watching the snow most of all, sort of like feathers. As for your ideas about the novel, I think that's true and I think now people are drawn to aftermath stories -- things that happen after a big trauma. Or at least I am.

ZZZZZZZ said...

It's amazing the beautiful things we take for granted.

Steve Malley said...

So the novel is more a 'shadow, thrown upon a wall of a cave', b the true and real object in the author's imagination?

Why Charles, how very Platonic of you! :-)

Congrats as well on the award. You do a heckuva lot to keep us all writing well!

Erik Donald France said...


And congrats!

Travis Erwin said...

And how many poepl would have ignored what the saw and gone back to watching reality television instead of investigating?

Sidney said...

An interesting moment. I've seen huge shadows sweep across my yard and realized that hawks or other predatory birds were visiting. Ironically my cats seem to get under the coffee table about then. Christine says they say: "It just professional courtesy."

steve on the slow train said...

Congratulations on your award. I've been reading your blog for only a few weeks, but I've learned a lot from it. Steve Malley says it well.

Charles Gramlich said...

Lana, thankee,

Christina, thanks. I've been thinking about it all day myself.

Tara, I think those yellowish spots were some type of fungus. And yes, there are probably many such dramas going on around us all the time, although we seldom notice.

Bernita, Lana and I found another batch of feathers today at a park a good ways from where we live. Another unseen drama.

Julie, thanks. The lion thing has mushroomed for sure.

Church lady, I always collect feathers for Lana whenever I find them. We have many about the house.

Michelle, I suppose that's much of what an artist does. Observe.

Sheila, agreed.

Steve Malley, did I say that? Uhm, maybe I was drunk. Thanks for your congrats. You're the one who has so many great insights into writing, though.

Erik, thanks.

Travis Erwin, you're right, and that makes me feel pretty good about myself. Thanks!

Sidney, sometimes those shadows freak me out a bit myself.

Steve, thanks. I appreciate it, my friend.

SzélsőFa said...

How cool Charles, that you have been awarded!
I came here to find some good photography, but most of all, to think about your words!


the walking man said...

Charles, one day when I was hobbling my way to yet another doctor appointment a mile or so from my house I saw a murder of crows take a pigeon down from about 200 feet up.

It was brutal and fascinating the way the black predators danced together in the sky to not let their prey find a way out. The pigeon truly was flying for life and the crows were not going to let themselves be out maneuvered. It was ballet of the sky in it's most brutal fashion.

congrats on the kudos



Anndi said...

Congrats on the award... well deserved!

For a minute there I thought you were getting snow... maybe I played with too many snowglobes on my Christmas shopping trip yesterday.

cs harris said...

What a poignant image.

If I dove dies in the sky and no one sees the rain of feathers...

Jo said...

Wow, that must have been something to see. It's true, isn't it? How many dramas go on all around us, and we never notice them.

Congratulations on the award. :-)

AvDB said...

I suppose that's why we writers will never have that rock star experience; it's hard to applaud something that has already happened.

I'd be more upset about the hawk than the dove (which, by the way, are the two avian species that make up the name of a dark, slightly seedy bar in D.C. favored by the Capitol Hill types). Doves are nothing more than thinly disguised pigeons. Suburban pigeons, if you will.

Charles Gramlich said...

Szelsofa, thanks for the congrats and the compliments.

Mark, the mob mentality is not just a human behavior.

anndi, thanks. Snow? It's 80 here the last few days. With a heavy fog in the morning.

Candice, exactly.

Josie, thanks. And yes, so many incidents that we never observe.

Avery, but doves are pretty good eating, my friend.

Middle Ditch said...

Yesterday I looked out of the window and watched for a while a rook harassing a little falcon trying to hover. The rook kept bomb-diving the falcon. Suddenly the falcon swooped up high and then swooped down to attack the rook, who had to fly for it's life.

I think that when you read a novel, somehow you make your own film in your mind. That's why it's usually pretty disappointing to see the film after you read the novel. You see someone else's film.

Ello - Ellen Oh said...

I love the thought that so many beautiful things happen that we are not aware of and we are fortunate to capture it when we can.

Congrats on the award!

Lisa said...

Congratulations Charles! This is one of my favorite stops and the recognition is well deserved. You're obviously very observant, as I think all good writers must be. I had the same immediate thought about the glowing eyes when I read about the feathers...