Typically we go about our day under an assumption that there is a Human world and a Natural world. This fits neatly for society; in an interior space we use climate control, walls, windows, and closed doors to separate our affairs from the long-since-developed wilderness. The soil deep beneath the concrete foundations of our office buildings can’t remember when it last felt the rays of the sun or the wriggle of a seed germinating. Today while I was grabbing a bite to eat for lunch, that dividing line shattered like the false glass it is made of.
*insert dramatic flourishes*
Let me explain.
I dropped into Plume’s, a great little coffee shop & study nook, to grab coffee and a sandwich. There was a bit of a wait, but I didn’t mind. I had left my phone back at the studio, mostly because I have a habit of distracting myself with it and everyone needs a break from screens, even for just the length of a little lunch run.
To occupy the time I was checking out the very full bulletin board, ripping phone numbers for odd job listings and taking some joy from the variety of workshops, massage therapists, photographers, and babysitters making themselves known in the community. I’m corny.
A pigeon smacked right into the large glass windows (more like a wall than a window to be truthful) and flew inside in a rush of feathers and noise. It flew back and forth, alarming all the grad students tapping away on laptops and the lunch-goers at their tables. It circled the entire span of the cafe, settling onto a table where it displaced three women who had been eating. They rushed to their feet, chairs squeaking across the floor, polyester sport jackets swishing.
In some commotion, a rough-looking man with kind eyes and a plethora of face & neck tattoos managed to gently corner it and take hold of it in his hands. Relief began to radiate through the space as everyone realized that the possibility of being shit on while indoors had passed.
Laughing, he held the pigeon up and gestured with it to the cafe, saying “All right! Say goodbye to everyone!” in a tone both comforting and silly.
He proceeded to take the pigeon outside and with a grand flourish, tossed it straight up into the air as if releasing a single dove from a balcony in an old romantic movie. As it ascended, like magic it was joined by a flock of its kin and was lost in the crowd of circling pigeons heading off toward the ocean.
The cafe quickly settled back into business as usual.
Trying to be profound, I turned to the young man sitting near by on his laptop.
“Just a nice reminder that we still live in nature!”
He looked at me like I was a cornball weirdo. I burnt my tongue on my coffee as I attempted to downplay my own awkwardness. Yeesh. Guess not everyone was having as much of a "moment" as I was.
I got my sandwich and went to leave, but stopped to thank the pigeon-wrangler for his excellent pigeon wrangling. He thanked me and told me that he loves animals and has always had a good communication with them. Always interesting to meet someone who at first glance seemed intimidating display an unexpected gentle side and grace under pressure.
I am thankful for these small moments between strangers and nature. I couldn’t help but smile the whole time I walked back to the studio.