Tuesday, September 24, 2013
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.