Monday, December 22, 2014

A Craving for Actual Swan

The strikingly lovely scene, swans parading symmetrically in a fountain

"The day after Mardi Gras, in New Orleans, I had a terrible craving for filet of swan."
--Andre Codrescu, A Craving for Swan

You guess profound mysteries
under the hewn domes of your afternoons.
Soar on endlessly
but do not reveal to us what you see.

—from The Magic Bird, by Lucian Blaga, translated from the Romanian by Andrei Codrescu

"Our job when faced with mystery is not to explain it, but to increase its mysteriousness."
--Andrei Codrescu, quoting Lucian Blaga, in this video

While going through the photos from yesterday's ride, I discovered a surprise. I do not believe that I previously realized that the pair of swans frequently seen floating in this fountain next to a bike path in Scottsdale are fake plastic swan replicants.

Boom! The zoom reveals the Roy Batty of swans. No need to Voight-Kampff this one.

This second photo triggered an unstoppable goose chase for a specific book, which I felt certain was... somewhere in the house. Our two cats, who had been sleeping, seemed to pick up on my focus and energy, because they both followed me around the house as I knelt, reached, bent, and squinted at many different dusty bookshelves searching for just one. I think they recognized ardent foraging when they saw it. 

Digging in old dusty book piles, darting from one shelf to another then back again, tossing aside books which were not The Book I Need to Find, cursing and then standing in place motionless to try to wake up old neurons to give me some shred of a lead on where to start looking seemed to be a task they were down with. 

Where would I even shelve that book? Between Bill Bryson and Pico Iyer? Must not get distracted, must stay on task...hey, look at that excellent 900 page book on Canadian history that I bought around the same time and meant to read, maybe I'll just pick that up for a few minutes. Maybe with the piles of books of essays that I mean to read soon? Aldous Huxley, EB White, five books by John McPhee...nope, not there, either. Perhaps more coffee would help. 

One of the cats actually taps me with her claw as I grab the McPhee books and sit on the floor, ready to burrow in. No, her insistent predatory eyes intone, that is not the book you're foraging for. Keep digging while the trail is warm before you are engulfed in a landslide of folksy geology words. 

The sleeping teenage daughters were not amused at the literary archeology ruckus, but tough, because it was, in the end, fruitful.

Purchased at Changing Hands on 414 Mill on 12/5/1992 1:06pm for $5

I've seen egrets in this pond, ducks, and wading birds with long legs and long bills, and now I feel I doubt not only the memory of them, but the reality. Just as likely as rare water birds pausing here is a midnight bird modeller who sneaks out here under cover of darkness, and poses one or more of his plastic creations. They may be radio-controlled, equipped with cameras and WIFI, elements of the Internet of Wings. What's the IP address of that swan?

Nearby on the ride, close to sunset, I saw a man on the golf course piloting an RC glider above one of the greens. Silently it floated, turning at his command, rising and falling according to air currents and elevator position. In that moment, in the quiet scene, I valued the lack of motor noise emitted by his hobby, in contrast with the RC speed boat captains who tear up the pond just up the trail from here. The twenty foot tall rooster tails those model boats put out is awesome, but their sharp-edged motors do rip the afternoon's peace in two.

In the few photos I grabbed of the swans as I rode past, I cannot find the operator twiddling the joysticks of the radio controlled swans. (model Cygnus X-1). His goal may be faithful simulation, which would be ruined by his presence on a bench in the background. Relay drones would be more effective, hovering a hundred meters above the water, relaying his control signals down and the video of onlookers back to his display. Rotate swan #2 slowly while pivoting neck, gauge reaction. 

It may be time to break out my RC pterodactyl. See how the swans react to that.

All those ... moments will be lost in time, like rain.

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