Sunday, May 18, 2008

Bird Watching

Our birth photographer Gemma-Rose Turnball has an album on her website called 'Bird Watching.' I remembered that it had pictures that made the ordinary look extraordinary (there's even a photo from my birth in this album!)

I got to thinking about 'bird watching' and what the same type of thing might mean for me as a writer. The inspiration was going along to Dylan's kindy disco on Friday night. It's was a weird juxtaposition - flashing lights and music, the closeness created in a room by the heat of too many bodies and not enough fresh air ... that drag you back to times and places long ago, memories that surface without bidding. Memories that are interupted by a tug on your hand, a strain of the chicken dance music or the mad squeals of a group of kids chasing each other over a grassy knoll. All quite strange.

But the aspect of the whole night that got me, and got me thinking about Gemma's take on 'bird watching' was coming across one particular Dad on the sidelines. He was much taller than me, well over six foot tall, with dark brown hair, messily curling (the way hair does when its outgrown its original cut). He had a good three day growth on his face. He looked rugged, but this wasn't the first thing that caught my eye, in fact it was the last. What originally caught my eye was the black patent leather bag under one arm and the bright pink my little pony being held in the other. The three aspects, rugged looking man, black hand bag and pink stuffed pony should not have been in the same sentence, let along the same space in time, it should not have worked would not have worked in any other place other than a kindy disco.

The last thing that amazed me was how at ease he was, it was if he was oblivious to the fact of what he was actually holding. He could well have been holding a beer, he was that comfortable.

It was the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Yet it almost became my biggest fauxpas. I immediately had to go out and tell someone what I had seen - Dave wasn't with us. The first person I found was another Mum from Dylan's class that I sort of know. I started to gush it out, and then put a disclaimer on it, "Oh I had better be careful, it may have been your husand,' before I embarked once more upon my description. And you betcha .. it was this lady's huband (of the 50 or so families that were there!) But she took it in her stride, she probably took it as a compliment - not to mention that I'm sure she would have been happy to have offloaded her two kids, her hand bag and the my little pony onto him. I know I would have been.

Looking for the extraordinary in the ordinary keeps life exciting, it throws up all manner of possibilities that we're closed to if we wandered through life blinkered by any sense of monotony. The challenge - to go out and bird watch, to scrutinse "for subtle detail in size, shape, plummage and behaviour" and tell us all what you see.

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