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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Quill vs. Feather

Sometimes, the best things in life are free.

It struck me quite forcefully today, as I  came back from my morning walk. I start early, before the sun is more than an orange red ball in the east, and the air is not yet befouled by the fumes of the early morning cars. Most people are still abed, and my main encounters are  with the hares that hop away in alarm from the clover patches,  the robins that fly off to  the low shrub branches, scolding me for disturbing their breakfast, and the occasional turkey or deer peering watchfully at my gait to check if I am headed for them.

A few weeks ago, we had bought a rather expensive boxed 'quill set' at a historical site's gift shop. M wanted to try calligraphy using the beautifully styled feather with a nib and the tiny ink-bottle that came with it. Unfortunately, as lovely as it looked, we soon realized that the feather inserted into the fancy holder (shaped like a musical treble clef notation) was purely ornamental and of no use whatever in drawing up the ink through its capillaries, even though the metal nib looked quite capable. M was frustrated that the quill would not write, since it was incapable of holding ink.

Today as I walked, there lay at my feet a large feather. It was a bit straggly about the ends, but the pointed tip was well formed and would make a gorgeous quill, if cut properly. I picked it up and continued on my route, at risk of appearing crazy to any humans I might encounter on my walk.
Was this feather from a  turkey (Benjamin Franklin's favorite, that he favored over the Bald Eagle as the official symbol of the U.S) or  a crow? I couldn't tell for sure.

I continued on the route, and as I approached a small corner wilderness tamed into a mowed lawn with trees and a plastic bench, no part of a property, but nevertheless with a small mailbox, I saw a turkey cross in front from there, hurrying her brood of seven babies with her.

I must have gotten a turkey feather, I thought. And sure enough, there lay another similar feather in front in the mini-park. This had a split end though and I was a bit disappointed. But a few steps away there was a perfectly formed large feather, even better than the first one that I picked up.

After I reached home, I tucked away the feathers in a little container on the kitchen counter, to await M after she wakes up. I will show her how to trim the edge at a slant to approximate a nib , so she can finally try her hand at the quill calligraphy, albeit with a free quill that would function properly, rather than an expensive dud.

1 comment:

Balachandran V said...

That was a most pleasant walk I had, with you! :-)