Thursday, November 17, 2011

Occupy Wall Street, or look for a Snowy Owl?

There are two birds that I have wanted to see since I was small child: the Wandering Albatross and the Snowy Owl. Both thanks to my mother. The Wandering Albatross became a fixation after she took me to see a live production of "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" one night in our town's only big cathedral. I still remember the lead striding down the aisle between the pews -- "Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink" -- albatross (well, probably a Silver Gull, truth be told) around his neck. I finally saw Wandering Albatrosses this year, on a SOSSA pelagic trip out of Wollongong, in eastern Australia, in August. Even whilst heaving over the side of the boat (turns out I have no sea legs), I was still in awe as the albatrosses sailed by like small, silent planes.

The Snowy Owl, though, huh. Almost every year one turns up in coastal Connecticut for a day or so, and it always seems to be when I am stuck at my desk. The Snowy Owl thing happened thanks to my mother attending art college, painting a giant canvas inspired by a picture from National Geographic of four Snowy Owl chicks hunkered down on a desolate tundra. The idea of tundra, permanently frozen ground, was so appealing to a humidity-hating child stuck in subtropical Australia. Those chicks had gimlet eyes, and they looked somehow superior, as if they knew something the rest of us didn't; I loved that. The picture is still on my parents' wall, those chicks glaring at everyone.

So today I'm torn: Go to NYC to the Occupy Wall Street protests on the 2-month anniversary and soak up history and take photos and you know, BE there, or try and see the Snowy Owl that was hanging out at East Haven yesterday. It's OWS vs. OWL. The inner dialogue is going something like "I'm kind of tired, do I really want to go all the way to the city and tromp around and blah blah..." Then "I might get arrested; I don't want to get arrested" Where did that come from? I'm not really at all scared of being arrested. And "What if it turns violent?" Pfft. Let's face it, I'm just coming up with rational excuses. Neuroscientists have pinpointed the moment that the brain makes a decision, before we even know about it. Then it tells us about it and kindly lets us think that we've made a conscious choice. My brain has already decided that OWL beats OWS, so off I go to try and find that bird...

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