Paper cranes

25 February, 2018            Paper cranes

It’s a “paper crane.” Not an “origami swan.” The reason for the distinction currently escapes me, but I’ll figure it out. These caught my eye on Wednesday morning around 8:00 at Black Hand Coffee at 3101 Patterson Avenue, Richmond, Virginia 23221. I cannot recommend that place highly enough – what a tremendous experience:

Paper cranes at Black Hand Coffee

In Japanese folklore, the gods will grant a wish to a person who folds one thousand paper cranes (origami). A girl named Sadako Sasasi was two years old and lived with her family on the outskirts of Hiroshima when the United States incinerated it and poisoned it with the world’s first atomic bomb on August 6, 1945. She and her family escaped, and the war ended and she grew up and went to school. She was a popular student and athlete. When she was twelve  years old, she began to experience symptoms of what the Japanese referred to as the “Atomic Bomb Disease.” The correct name is leukemia. Sadako began folding paper cranes while she was in the hospital. Unfortunately she died about two months before her thirteenth birthday. Her story has survived as a symbol of the horrors of war and the nightmare of atomic weapons.

When I was studying about paper cranes, I read this: What does an origami swan mean? Traditionally, it was believed that if one folded 1000 origami cranes, one’s wish would come true. It has also become a symbol of hope and healing during challenging times. As a result, it has become popular to fold 1000 cranes (in Japanese, called “senbazuru”).

I’ve read two wonderful books about Sadako and her experience. I recommend either of them to anyone. Both are brief and well written. If you’re interested, try either One Thousand Paper Cranes: The Story of Sadako and the Children’s Peace Statue by Ishii Takayuki or Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr.

It was hard to read and hard to experience but it was time well spent. It’s hard to write about too and I’m ready for a change of pace. Here’s an idea – how about a daffodil? Pony Pasture, 11:00 this morning:

Yellow and green – note the conspicuous absence of the blues

I was at our friend Ariel’s house last week (that’s where Yuki lives) and she had a stunning gardenia on her back patio. The gardenia and Yuki were the same color. I asked her about it and she said she’d gotten it at Strange’s Florist near Broad and Gayton, which is just down the street from where I work three days a week. So I picked one up Wednesday morning and brought it home. Photographs don’t do gardenias justice, but this is just one of perhaps a dozen buds from that plant. It’s still blooming on our back porch, except for a few buds Ev trimmed off and put in a vase in the house:

My jaw always drops. There is simply nothing to not-like about a gardenia.

Our bird feeders are covered in birds; here’s a bluebird with a treat the same morning I brought that gardenia home:

Not a crisp image, but this bird looks triumphant. To me.

I clicked again a moment later when a Brown-headed Nuthatch (lower left) lit on the feeder for an instant before it vanished. They have a special place in my heart because I never knew such a bird existed before one landed on my feeder last year. That experience of discovery etches itself in my brain. It’s almost a physical sensation:

Brown-headed nuthatch, lower left. I’m always grateful when I see one.

I could hardly even open my eyes without seeing a hawk this week. I’m seeing pairs of them (I mean that literally, not in the sense that I’m “seeing double”) all over the place. I’ve never gotten great light or great angles on any of the pictures, so here’s the least worst picture I’ve gotten this week. Soon I’ll get a pair on a church cross. It happens every year and it’s always a good picture. But here’s a representative picture for Week Eight of my “Raptor-A-Week” project for 2018:

I don’t love this image, but I feel privileged every single time I see two Red-tails together.

I don’t do a “Dog-A-Week” project because it’s too easy with domestic animals. But we got right in the middle of a little herd of deer at Pony Pasture this morning and I tied off the dogs’ leashes so I could take a few pictures. Of the deer, of course, but here’s one of Yuki (white), Mackey (lying down) and Turner (none of the above):

They’re such a handsome, easygoing crew. A joy to hike with.

I’m guessing this is Mom. She was calm and cool. There were three youngsters – adolescent age I’m thinking – tiptoeing around looking much less confident. They were making an almost comically conspicuous attempt to appear inconspicuous. She was alert but not anxious. She knows Mackey and Turner and Yuki are not a threat:

A picture of calm awareness. She’s in the moment.

Here’s a youngster. The mother is gazing; this one is peering. It is a subtle but in my opinion unmistakable difference:

Compare this gaze to the one above. I wish I’d known their heart rates. I guarantee this deer’s was 20% higher than the other one.

When Mackey and Turner and Yuki and I went back to Ariel’s house to drop Yuki off, she invited me in for a spritzer and the dogs for their post-hike treats. My camera is hanging around my neck from the time I leave the house Sunday morning until I get home after the hike, so I picked it up and snapped a quick shot when this Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) landed on a  metal fencepost:

Song sparrow in Ariel’s backyard early this afternoon:

Anyway. It’s been a good week. I hope yours was even better, and next week is better than last  week. And come back again! Have a great week,


About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
This entry was posted in Birds, daffodils, Dogs, Flowers, Fun, Gardenias, Pony Pasture, raptors, Red-tailed hawks, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!), whitetail deer and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Paper cranes

  1. Jackie says:

    OMG can’t believe you have flowers popping awesome! Love the paper cranes always interested
    me, thanks for the info. The boys of course handsome as ever 👍

    • Hi Jackie! The daffodils are popping open everywhere – that one was in the middle of the woods! Our hyacinths might even open today – definitely this week. The paper cranes were really cool – it’s a fascinating story. And glad you liked the picture of the boys! Thanks for the note and have a great day,


      PS Tell your Mom I said hello! Fred too if you see him.

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