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Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Magic of Everyday Life

Today I walked out a work and saw a parhelion to the left of the sun, its rainbow of colors vivid in my polarized sunglasses. Sadly, there was no one leaving at the same time for me to point it out to.

As I drove home the parhelia - two of them, both to the left and the right - became more pronounced; the left one appeared to be a vertical pillar of light, though I know it was really a visible section of a ring of light around the sun, formed by a fortunate alignment of ice crystals in the atmosphere. My mom was on the road at the same time, and while she was some 40 miles away, she was also driving West at the moment I called her. So I got to share this with her.

I drove home with the parhelia and the setting sun ahead of me the whole way. As I pulled into Nanticoke the spell was broken; the sun passed into a thicker layer of clouds near the horizon, and the parahelia faded away.

The world is full of what I call The Magic of Everyday Life. That was very nearly the name of this blog, and it may yet turn out to be the name of a secondhand junk, gardening supply, and magic trick/joke shop sometime in the future. Last night was a prime example, as the Moon passed through the shadow of the Earth. Something so rare, but so mundane. A chance arrangement of ice crystals produces parhelia that flank the setting sun; another arrangement forms a different light show entirely, while a trick of light and raindrops produces a rainbow.

Sunrises. Sunsets. Sun Pillars. Shadows. Spiders. Weeds. Things that lurk in flowers. Clouds in the moonlight. Dark suns that rise in the East at sunset. All amazing and perfectly mundane things, easily overlooked as we go about our everyday lives, more incredibly magical than any bit of prestidigitation. All part of a world that exists all around us.

Here's a video that means a lot to me, and a lot of other people of my generation. It's from the children's program Sesame Street - according to information on the posting on YouTube, it actually aired in the second week that Sesame Street was on the air, though many people associate it with the death of Mr. Hooper.

I don't know if the video has a title, though a lot of people call it "Sad Flower." The story of how this video came to be on YouTube is pretty amazing: the original clip was pulled, possibly by the content owners (though why they would do this is beyond me), possibly by some nervous and risk-averse soul at Google, so a user reposted it from an ancient videotape he had made years before. The sound was bad, so another YouTube user replaced the audio - the second movement of Vivaldi's Guitar Concerto in D-Major - with a better version. Other users identified the location in the background (Exit 28, Westbound, of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway) and even the exact setting (the rooftop of 21 Clark Street in Brooklyn.)

Many people seem to associate feelings of sadness with this video, even those who saw it long before the death of Mr. Hooper. (I was 14 when he died in 1982, and only watched Sesame Street ironically at that point.) But I know that whenever my brother and sister and I saw this on TV, we just thought it was beautiful - and we would turn it up to hear the music better. (The song haunted me for years, as described in this post, and I only just found out its name a year or so ago.) In fact, I never had the impression that the flower was crying, though if it is it might be because it is so isolated from the rest of nature, growing in a crack in a rooftop in Brooklyn. (Those familiar with what vegetation can and eventually will do to all human construction may interpret these as tears of triumphant joy.) But seeing the water dripping from the center of the daisy-like (or sunflower-like) flower, I think I have identified what type of flower it is.

Your assignment: go out and find something magical that you have overlooked, something that even might have been there all the while, but you haven't noticed before. Then share it with someone else. Maybe even post it on your blog!

Happy searching! Good luck, and enjoy the Magic of Everyday Life!


whimsicalnbrainpan said...

Great post D.B.! There is so much everyday beauty around us that most fail to see.

anne said...

I agree - great post.

And thanks for the heads up on the eclipse. My hubby was on the other side of PA and we chatted on the phone while we both watched the elcipse together.

Michelle D said...

You'll have to wait until I get our camera back. Rich loaned it to his brother for a Jeep show in NJ.