HALLIE EPHRON: I was writing in my office yesterday morning, the window shade next to my desk raised a few inches so I can see a slice of the hedge next to my house. And there, in the branches, was a downy woodpecker, a little black and white guy, pecking at the woody stems.
It turns and I can see the red blaze on the back of its head.
I go for my camera but when I come back to take this picture, the bird is gone.
Later that day I hear the distinctive bell-like call of a blue jay. Over and over. I go out into the yard and there are two... no four of them in a bush.
And it's not just a call. It's a call and response and choreographed head movements. They've a virtual synchronized swim team. This YouTube (thanks LesleytheBirdNerd) video captures it.
This brings to mind this moment years and years ago when my husband Jerry says to me, "My watch stopped."
"Need to get a new battery," I say.
"I mean, it just stopped. While I was watching it."
We both stare at the watch face in delight. It has a frozen second hand. Is that cool or what?
Now I'm thinking of other things are so fleeting that if you're not paying attention, you'll miss them.
When the last Hanukah candle burns out.
When the clouds in a sunset sky lose their pink glow.
When oncoming headlights turn on.
When zeroes queue up on the odometer.
When a baby stops flailing and focuses on his little fist. And slowly moves it into his mouth.
When the temperature rises that last degree on the candy thermometer.
When jello jells, an egg hatches, labor starts.
Blink and you'll miss it.
And why does before something happens seems interminable, whereas the time after passes us by, unawares?
What have you noticed lately that, if you hadn't been paying attention, you'd have missed?