Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Kingfisher



ABC Wednesday
The letter is K for Kingfisher

An excerpt from Chris Arthur's book of essays entitled "Irish Nocturnes"

page 69, Kingfishers, the first paragraph......

"Their plumage is so richly iridescent, the blue and red so bright, that for my first few sightings of them kingfishers seemed unnatural.  They struck the eye as something artificial, synthetic, clad in all the arid shininess of plastic, rather than the subtler hues of life.  To see them flash past constitutes such a discordant eruption of sudden metallic colour against the muted greens and browns of their riverside haunts, that it's not surprising if the mind reaches at first for man-made analogues in order to find some likeness for them.  Having this little chromatic missile shoot into view without warning can even create an expectation of noise.  It's as if one had been surprised by a tiny, secret, supersonic jet, roaring its intrusion through the world, the fly-past soon to be caught up with by the same ear-splitting barrage of sound that follows in the wake of low-flying fighter planes."

and after an essay in which he comments on the slight chance of seeing a kingfisher in Ireland, the serendipity moments when you do, and compares this to the moments of chance in our lives that destiny seems to choose to change our lives forever (if I had lingered just one minute more - if I had not gone down by the river that Sunday afternoon...)

 he ends his essay with this paragraph.....

"And, in the end, the impossible question: is our life punctuated by a flash of kingfisher colour as something transcendent impinges on us, or are we imprisoned in the world we see, earthbound and clumsy, shackled immovably to the chains of our finitude?  Is there, behind the stink of fish in a dark hole in the earth, some hope of bright colour beyond it?  I've looked hard for the fly-past that might herald such otherness.  Sometimes I have been surprised by something unexpected, sudden, beautiful, seemingly like the stuff of fantasy, too exotic for the mundane world.  But have I really seen it?  Sometimes nothing much seems to stir above the waters of the ordinary.  But has my vigil been sufficiently keen to catch that sudden flash of sapphire light?  In the end, the final answer, if there is one, lies downstream, where all the currents of water, air, flesh and feather are inexorably leading us."

I cannot recommend "Irish Nocturnes" too much - or other books of essays by Chris Arthur.

And perhaps you might enjoy watching the video above, on painting the vibrant and iridescent Kingfisher.

For more takes on K do a fly-past ABC Wednesday, here, with thanks to Denise, Roger and all who help with this great meme.


14 comments:

Roger Owen Green said...

What a lovely description!
ROG. ABC Wednesday team

Roger Owen Green said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carver said...

I think kingfishers are such beautiful birds and I love their calls almost like whistling. Carver, ABC Wed. Team

photowannabe said...

So lovely Hildred. Thank you for sharing the description and words.

Leslie: said...

Beautiful! By the way, thanks for your comment but seriously, I'd much rather not have had to resort to K is for Klutz...lol

Leslie
abcw team

ChrisJ said...

Oh to be such an artist!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

So much to enjoy in this post ... I love Kingfishers (have been trying for years to get a decent photo of one). And the analogy the author uses ... comparing a sighting to those moments of unexpected joy ....and wondering afterwards. Beautiful essay (excerpt). And I enjoyed the video.... such a wonderfully put together post.

Indrani said...

I too have no decent capture of kingfisher, this video is done so well.

Jocee said...

Kingfishers are beautiful looking birds. So far they have evaded my photographic skills, but I will keep trying to capture them.

Marcy said...

Enjoyable video. Beautiful bird and talented artist!

K is for ...

Reader Wil said...

Thanks for the beautiful video! Really very clever of these Japanese artists!

The Weaver of Grass said...

They are an exquisite bird Hildred. We have a pair on our beck but only see them very rarely.

Joy said...

Kingfishers always seem to appear when you least expect them, stunning birds. I read somewhere that the feathers are actually black and it is the light bouncing off them that gives the iridescent colour. The Latin name of Halcyon could not be bettered. Loved the video.

Beverley Baird said...

A wonderful video and sounds like a great book/author.