In “The Idler,” poet Samuel Johnson wrote, “Our brightest blazes of gladness are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks.”
While I have grown accustomed to expecting Very Bad News, I continue to encounter beauty in surprising places.
In New England, certain seasonal features are de rigueur. But the shapes they take can be delightfully unexpected.
Despite a blaze of sunshine, an abrupt hail storm pelted our puppy’s nose with tiny orbs of white ice. He savored them as they turned to drops of water on his tongue. He cast his bittersweet chocolate eyes heavenward, as if wondering what further unusual treats might be dispatched from above.
I drove along a road. Its curbs were heaped with leaves which have turned from vivid shades into variegated umber, crackling and curled up like arthritic paws. On my periphery, to the right, I saw what looked like an undulating blanket of deep brown, flecked with gold, carpeting a lawn.
I pulled over and watched as it began to break apart. I realized it was a sea of small songbirds–similar to hundreds which touched down at our former home, screeching so loudly that we all went outside in wonder–picking furiously at seeds. I was surrounded by warbling and twittering, frantic banter not unlike a chorus of feet treading heavily upon squeaky puppy toys.
In clusters, the birds flew over my head and across the street to a single destination, both formulating and answering a riddle: when is a bare, leafless tree still full?
Here’s to the magical unexpected: the rising sun that swallows a lighthouse, then lets it go; rigidly arched sunset clouds which suddenly dissolve into fiery colors and spill out like a phoenix rising from ashes; November’s bright sun hitting the lights at Fenway Park like a scene out of “The Natural“; rounding a corner and seeing an ordinarily gray church facade lit up in Red Sox red; the earnest and expressive seagull who sits and poses for photographs rather than screeching and flying off to the waves; a robin hopping from branch to branch, camouflaged among fall’s last leaves; a pebble with a smiling face scraped into its surface during its journey to the beach; a wispy heart cloud against a cobalt blue sky, trailing along beside me.