#260: On Fortuitousness

“There is special providence in the fall of a sparrow.”–Hamlet


That broken tree branch swinging in strong wind,
caught by the branches of another tree
ready and cocked for catapult
toward the truck in the driveway,
finally let loose and fell.
It missed the truck by just a few
short feet. But a duck was hit by
a car on the road outside the house.
How does one hit a duck? This morning
the storm hit unexpectedly and
maybe the duck was disoriented
and the driver likewise disoriented.
But the driver didn’t stop and the dead
duck lie at the end of the driveway.
She picked it up and put it in a bag
for disposal, too stormy to do anything
else more symbolic or ritualistic,
but a chance to pause, to be still
in that wind, and to think, like
Stafford did on the side of the Wilson
River Road, about the sometimes
dissonant intersection between
civilization and nature. Outside
of that, nothing about the dead duck
seemed fortuitous. Hamlet says, as
Jesus did in Matthew, that there is
a special providence, essentially the
opposite of fortuitousness, in the fall
of a duck. And the power
is out today in my school, and they
decide not to send the students home
because it’s safer here than it would
be in a bus or walking down the street to get
to their homes. So they’re here. and
those of us with classrooms without
windows are scrambling to find light,
and those of us who planned using
any kind of technology for the lesson
are, as they say, up a creek, also, not
fortuitous, unless that creek takes you
someplace new, without technology,
without electricity, without our fancy
internet and our elaborate power point
presentations. But just when we’re ready
to make that leap, to go down that creek
to some new place, lo and behold,
fortuitously, or not, the power comes
back on and we continue the day
just as we planned it.

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