Friday, April 11, 2008

pictures from spring in southern California

The writer should never be ashamed of staring. There is nothing that does not require his attention.
Flannery O'Connor

With my daughter Clare's permission, I'm lifting some of her photos from her personal blog where she puts family pictures and that kind of thing. This is from our trip down to southern California to see Liam last week. Spring is a beautiful time of year down at Thomas Aquinas College and Clare gets better photos than I ever do. I borrowed her text too -- the comments on the pictures.

The boys spotted this little worm on one of the picnic tables.

Look at this lizard that Kieron caught! There are quite a few lizards on the larger side there.

The roses were out and blooming, fresh and pink and sweet.

Here's one of the local peacocks, trying to hide from me. When we came around the bend he was right in plain view, but I wasn't quick enough in getting my camera out of my purse. He went and lurked behind a tree, but I patiently waited, and finally he peeked his head out and gave me a long look before disappearing for good. It makes for a rather funny-looking picture, what with that tall head rising out of the shrubbery.

Flannery O'Connor, a favorite author of mine and now of Liam's, kept peacocks, and our family developed some her affection for them. They seem to partake a bit of the "world incalculable" that Chesterton often mentioned. This article about Flannery's peacocks is nice especially this quote.

I think the source of that fascination lay for O’Connor somewhere between mystery and manners. These are the terms she used to express the twin concerns of her fiction and they seem to neatly encapsulate the unique charm these birds held for her. She obviously enjoyed observing their daily habits, their little foibles and eccentricities - the way they lifted their tails over puddles, the way they chased themselves around the shrubbery, the way they strutted and fretted and squawked - but as well as that, of course, they always had in reserve their crowning glory.

In her essay, she describes how a peacock will often keep its back disdainfully turned to you, showing its everyday feathers whilst keeping its more spectacular plumage from your view; if you try to walk around it then it will continue to turn and conceal its front. The trick is to wait. And eventually, when it’s good and ready, it will display itself. “Then …” as she says, “you will see in a green-bronze arch around him a galaxy of gazing, haloed suns. This is the moment when most people are silent.” The quirky and quotidian is suddenly transformed into a blaze of revelation, of mute wonder. Manners give way to mysteries.


Mamselle Duroc said...

Ah, so that explains it! I saw that Flannery O'Connor book sitting on the table, and I simply could not figure out why it had a peacock on the cover.

Willa said...

Yes, the first essay in "Mystery and Manners" with the peacock cover is called "King of the Birds".

A quote:

"The cock's plumage requires two years to attain its pattern, and for the rest of his life this chicken will act as though he designed it himself."

It is an amusing essay to read.