Noticing Repetition & Symmetry

Iterations of wings, waves and wind

written by fiona

A flock of black starlings swoops low over a grassy field. The backdrop is a misty grey-blue.

published on November 30, 2022

The symmetry of my walk today was striking.

As I set out, heading east down Allerstraße, a tall man with wavy blond hair in a loose ponytail is walking in the opposite direction, talking into white wired headphones. I think he’s speaking Russian. Minutes later, crossing Schiller Promenade, two children alternate calling out to each other, the same sound repeated, as they walk in opposite directions with their parents. The volume of their calls increases with the widening distance. A long goodbye.

I walk straight out onto the field, past a man grappling with a large green kiteboarding sail, towards a lonely oak still clinging to all its leaves. I’m following the hint of a path but it’s barely there and I keep my eyes down to avoid tripping on a Skylark burrow.

Starlings emerge en-masse, swoop around together, then disappear into the grass. The pattern repeats, endlessly. At one point their murmuration passes directly overhead and the synchronous wings mirror the sound of a wave gently breaking. Several crows seem to be following them like opportunistic overseers.

A flock of starlings swoop around a grassy field, a few crows follow, they stand out black against the pale greens and blues of the background.

A kestrel hovers directly overhead for a few seconds, their frenetic wings make no discernible sound.

The wind was at my back on the way out, but I can’t avoid its cutting chill as I turn around and start back down the other side of what was once the air traffic control station.

Another kestrel and crow swoop around together, it’s not clear if one is chasing the other or if they are playing. The kestrel is more agile, but I’m surprised that the crow can match their speed.

I pass another oak and younger sapling next to it, both fully dressed in rusty leaves. The sound of wind rushing through them resembles the starlings’ wings, resembling the waves, like breath. In and out, there and back. We are all waving.

An oak tree, stands in the middle of a grassy field. Its rust red leaves stand out against the pale blue foggy background, and they flicker in the wind.

To my right a father and his young son are feeding a growing number of crows, I estimate at least 50 (when does it become a murder?). I am reminded of the article I’d just read on how to befriend a crow and regret that I didn’t put a few seeds in my pocket before I left. The birds chatter and bounce around in chaotic groups, responding to the human intervention.

I retrace my steps, crossing at the exact same spot on Schiller Promenade where different children play the same call and response game as they separate. Then, the same man from the beginning passes by at the same spot. Like me, he’s walking back the way he came, though no longer talking on his phone. We catch each other’s eye for a moment.

I wonder if he remembers we did this dance earlier, but in reverse.

What are the chances?

written by fiona

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