Today’s paper reports that thousands of birds crashed to the ground in Utah. The reason given is that they mistook snow-covered parking lots and fields for water. The incident sounds very similar to the mass bird deaths in Arkansas and Louisiana almost a year ago. Those deaths were attributed to loud noises that frightened and disoriented the birds. But masses of fish died during the same period. Maybe these are natural events that we know about only because news reporting is so quick and widespread now. The explanations, though, don’t seem adequate to the questions. I wonder what noises? What would affect fish and fowl in the same way within a short time period? Why would birds mistake snow for water? Do these incidents happen frequently? Are they so common to our natural world that cases show up in folklore? I don’t recall stories about mass deaths of creatures, except rats leaving a sink ship, and lemmings going over a cliff.
In the same newspaper is a brief article about two self-professed witches being arrested in Romania (for very human crimes like blackmail) and another about the truly tragic and bizarre death of a woman whose dress became caught in an elevator door.
With just a cursory read of one page, not the headline articles, I have the strong feeling of the world as a crazy, frightening—even if sometimes wonderful and magical—place. Events of moment are occurring constantly. It’s difficult then to think of ironing or buying groceries or counting calories. When I jump at sounds or peek around doors or expect something like a skateboard to come flying up the sidewalk, I feel very realistic, just part of the natural world, and on the lookout.