Monday, January 17, 2011

January 16: View from the Chairlift

Recently I participated in a team-building exercise in which nine of us had two illustrations each that together made up an eighteen-page sequence. Looking only at our own two pictures and then describing them to the group, we had to lay them face-down on the floor in what we thought was the correct order. The end result was a pictorial narrative that began with a view of Earth from space and ended with the face of a chicken from the cover of a book being read by a kid on a cruise ship (with many other steps in-between). The goal was obviously to develop communication skills as a group, but the fun of it was in the unexpected perspective shift that telescoped (actually, "microscoped" would be more appropriate) from something literally universal down to the most minute detail.

I was reminded of that exercise while riding the chair lift at the Camden Snow Bowl. The view of the snow-covered Camden Hills on the way up Ragged Mountain is spectacular, especially the near view of craggy Bald Mountain. I kept looking over my shoulder, wanting to take it all in. I love living in such a beautiful place. About half-way up, however, I heard a high-pitched noise that I first dismissed as the chairlift pulley running through the tower. But it really sounded like a golden-crowned kinglet. And sure enough, I heard it again as a tiny bird flew into a nearby tree. As it landed below my dangling skis, its crown flared brightly. In that one instant, my attention shifted from the mountains to the tiny head feathers of a bird smaller than a chickadee--each sight breath-taking in its own way.

Mountains surround me,
but the kinglet's bright gold crown
is what draws my eye.

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