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Archive for September 3rd, 2020

Photo by Rajiv Bajaj on Unsplash

While waiting in the car the other day, I watched an incredible display of nature.

The seemingly mundane and commonplace pigeon.

Not so special, right? Rats with wings, some unlovingly call them.

This particular flock of pigeons were hanging out in the upper tier of a two-level store roof. The decorative section. I’ve seen other birds do the same thing I am about to describe, but never particularly paid attention to pigeons before to witness it.

With some signal I was oblivious to, sometimes cued by a few taking flight from the far side out of my view, they repeatedly took flight in group, falling naturally into their predetermined places like a choreographed dance troupe. In perfect unison they swooped and dodged through the air, a single unit without any bird losing its place. They rose in an upward arc, cut a hard turn, swooped down, arced around again, always in a tight unfaltering formation.

The Snowbirds (the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 431 Air Demonstration Squadron, an aerobatics air show demonstration team) would have envied their maneuvers.

Photo by Zac Ong on Unsplash

I had to marvel at the ability of (seemingly mere) birds to perform such a dramatic aerial synchronized acrobatic display. Does this somehow come naturally? How do they just know when to dive, dip, swoon, swoop, loop, arc, all in perfect unison? Is there some communication we are not privy to? Some telepathic communication? A joined hive brain?

Zoologist Wayne Potts’s (who published in the journal Nature in 1984) research suggests they anticipate sudden changes in the flock’s direction of motion.

Or do they spend hours training for this? Note: I did witness one bird appear to give another hell for getting a hair off their perfect formation when they all flew back onto their rooftop roost before taking off for another run. But, that interaction could have been for any reason. I watched for a good ten minutes while they repeatedly flew off into their routine and landed to take off and do it again over and over and over.

Observations like this can be turned into inspirations in building your literary world. Strangely luminous dust motes behaving in a very uncharacteristic way, mimicking these feathered air dances in an ethereal moment of bizarre clarity as a precursor to a discovery of something beyond this realm. A creature in your world taking on a behavior not natural to it, or one you created for your world that simply does this for reasons unknown to your characters.

Watching the world around is like foraging for story enrichments.

Photo by Timon Studler on Unsplash

Observing people, how they dress and move, their interactions and speech. How they band together, or in the new days of Covid-19 ‘socially distance’ (I don’t like that term. It sounds so… socially isolating.). Like moms clustering on a Facebook group to revel over the awesomeness of each others’ offspring when one of them shares their achievements. Cliques that form in every organization, workplace, and extended group. It is also watching traffic and housing trends. Shopping and dining habits. Social media and news also give insights into how you can twist things in your fictional stories or reveal them in any genre.

It’s more than people watching. It’s observing with a clinical eye.

Nature is rich, too, in suggestions and inspirations for your writing. From watching dogs in the dog park, how the squirrel, rabbits, and birds interact with each other at your bird feeder, to wildlife clips and documentaries. The strange behaviors of birds like the flock of pigeons, or the infamous false Tweets of pelicans ‘cooling off’ by throwing their spines outside their mouths. (Actually, it’s just a yawn and that is their long neck, not their spine). Do, however, research these odd things before using them and deciding how much fact vs. fictional artistic license you want to take in creating your world.

 

 

The world everywhere around you is full of ideas you can twist and form into enriching your stories.

Keep writing, my friends.

 

L. V. Gaudet Books:

 

Vivian Munnoch Books (and Roxy photobomb):

Roxy aka The Big Dumb Bunny

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