Birds Flying High. Beginning A New Day Ending with Polka Dots.

“Birds flying high. You know how I feel.  A new day.  A new age.  And, I’m feelin’ good.”

Happy New Year and I really am feelin’ good.

This is from a series of photographs I took early early this morning on the first day of January, 2010.  Snowing yet again.  Gray gray gray.  But, birds flying high.

Why they aren’t already far south of this freeze box,  I’ll never know.

But, I’m thankful for them and their patterns and their movement and the ghosts of motion all in the same instant.

It is that very new first day of the month, the year, the decade, and god help us all, the rest of our lives and attention must be paid.

I ended the decade and began the new one reading a short biography of Franklin Roosevelt by Alan Brinkley.

A meditation on friendship not history ensued.  I read about his relationship with Missy LeHand, the long-time secretary and companion/hostess of FDR.  Although it appears this was not a romantic relationship (at least on FDR’s part), he was dependent and attached to her skills.  Years of traveling with him, years of managing his personal and professional life; he was her life.

She was often Eleanor’s substitute hostess (with Eleanor’s approval) on numerous social occasions as well as his companion on his travels in search of cures and hope once he was stricken with polio and before he became president.

When he was elected President, she served in the same close position until she had a stroke and was unable to continue working.  She lived in a room in the White House but FDR reportedly never went to visit her. Not once.

His relationship was done once she was no longer any use to him.  Or, he was the sort of friend who could not bring themselves to witness physical deterioration.  These folks sometimes say, “I didn’t know what to say,” and genuinely feel that is a good reason.  Or, they say it but have the grace to look at their shoes while saying it.  Given his own paralysis, that seems unlikely, yet still possible. Fear of seeing life’s possibilities can be paralyzing even in unheroic lives.

“Ouch” in any context of explanation.

“The New Deal”, indeed.

Do you know folks like this?  I mean “regular” folks–not ones who need biographers.

Yep, I guess we all have.

Hopefully, Missy LeHand’s stroke wiped out her cranial friendship acreage before she realized the truth.

I then went to sleep and woke up with Maira Kalman’s last column on the New York Times website about her year long pursuit of democracy.   Her magical lovely illustrations and photographs on a previous topic, “The Principles of Uncertainty” inspired me to begin this blog.

Anyway, her last illustrated column is about George Washington.  Do yourself a New Year’s favor, go take a look.

Oooo, Maira.

Birds flying high, you know how all of us feel– desirous of that luscious lemon layer cake to celebrate and savor the moment.

I have a red room.  I can buy white calla lilies.

But, that lemon layer cake?

I’m hoping for a friend who bakes to read this and deliver to my door sometime in my future this lemony surprise because you know, don’t you, how I feel about pastry?

It is the devil.

And, besides, tho’ not deserving of a granite monument to my contribution to our national life,  I’ll visit you for sure if you have a stroke.

Birds flying high, sings Nina Simone. New Day. New Age.

Nina, you are the lemon layer cake of artists all.

So, I begin a new day, a new month, a new decade knowing what I know and wishing I could fly south out of freezebox USA without waiting in a three hour security line checking for explosives sewn into my polka dot undies.

Now, there’s an image for your New Year.

©Pat Coakley 2009


**Select photographs from this blog and my larger archive can be purchased and/or downloaded at:

4 comments on “Birds Flying High. Beginning A New Day Ending with Polka Dots.”

  1. I witnessed a similar large group of birds here in Florida on Jan 1st. A huge flock of crackles making a loud racket. Do you think they are related to your birds?
    Writing 01/01/10 for the first time was magical, I have lots of hope for the coming decade. Glad you seem to be feeling better. Happy New Year!!

    • Your birds are smarter than my birds. They are flying around in above freezing temperatures! I like the sound of 2010, too, for some reason. Thanks for commenting!

  2. What a fabulous picture and an uplifting post — ending with a nice laugh about polka-dot undies.
    There are many like FDR who are either users of others, or inflict hurt because they just cannot face life’s possibilities. While others may be hurt, the real loser in this story was FDR. Imagine how large a chunk of his emotional being he must have walled off, and how impoverished he was because of it.

    • How perceptive you are, Don! The historian and biographer, Alan Brinkley, was interviewed on NPR about the book (that’s how I heard about it) and he made this exact point about being “walled off” which he said was something (no surprise here) that started very early in his life in order to deal with a very very dominating, adoring but controlling mother. When he went to Harvard, she moved to Boston. Yikes.

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