Archive for February 15th, 2008

The last time I saw a feather was a few hours ago. I pulled into the driveway after running an errand, and I noticed two turkey feathers stuck into the edge of a foamcore poster board advertising LIVE HERITAGE TURKEYS FOR SALE. All caps. 

Turkey feathers are big and plain, at least these ones are. I like that about them. No flash, just simplicity.

Jim find feathers everywhere. I ask him while he’s eating fruit salad for lunch, What do you know about feathers? He walks to the bookshelf and pulls down the Sibling Guide to Birds book he and the girls got me for Mother’s Day last year.

Well, he says, there are all kinds of feathers. Body feathers and head feathers. Feathers from the nape of the neck.

I ask him if he liked feathers when he was a boy. Not any more than the average kid, he tells me.

Our girls love feathers. They get a new peacock feather every other Sunday or so when it’s Growers Market season. Fifty cents each, although sometimes Mr. and Mrs. Johnston give the girls a feather each for free.

I once found a tiny pale orange feather, perfectly formed. It stood out against the gray gravel in the driveway, and for weeks I kept it in my car in the well between the bucket seats. I twirled it between my fingers while waiting in the drive-thru at the pharamacy or the parent pick-up line at school.

I now know that the feathers in the outermost tip of the wing are called Primaries. Or are they Secondaries?

There are tail feathers and rump feathers. Jim mentions Scapulars, and when I look at him for clarification, he says, Shoulder, scapula…you know, just remember, I-broke-my-scapula.

I think of football players and their shoulder pads and the playing fields we walked across at Valley High School in the days before any of us had our drivers licenses. So green and manicured, those fields.

I don’t recall ever seeing a feather on that carpet, but I do remember my best friend’s older sister’s collection of feathers. She kept them on a nightstand near her reel-to-reel. We snuck into her bedroom and snagged a few, braided leather to the quill and wore them in our hair or made roach clips out of them.

One of the first feathers I ever saw was the light gray of the guinea hen, distinguishable by its many white dots. I picked up handfuls in Grandma’s yard one afternoon, walked in through the kitchen. Mom and Grandma sat at the table smoking cigarettes and when they saw what was in my hands, they both yelled, Get those dirty things out of here, NOW!

-related to Topic post, WRITING TOPIC – LIGHT AS A FEATHER

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