Flights of Whimsy

Sometimes, my old habits towards isolationism—nurtured over many school years of feeling generally misfit and outcast—give me the sense of moving through my life with as much of an observational, anthropological perspective as a fully engaged one.(1)

I am particularly aware of this tendency as regards the different cultures and traditions of different lived communities. During my childhood, we bounced from the west coast to New England, to South America, the U.S. midwest and then New Jersey. Then, after college, I shifted between urban life—the heart of Philly—and our current suburban Massachusetts home.

With all those different places and lived environments, I now and again find myself surprised when I finally see some phenomenon I’ve heard about with my own eyes.

Such as this fortnight’s plastic flamingos.

I first spotted them last Monday on my commute to work. I’m lucky enough to be able to take state routes rather than highways, so my route to work takes me through the downtown area of the two towns between home and the office. So, while doodling down main street, I saw them: a cheerful grouping of plastic pink flamingos and a sign reading “You’ve been flocked”

Not actually the flock I saw, but you get the idea.

The sight amused me. I found it charming. And the next morning I was charmed to see them again. I had a moment’s disorientation when I saw them on Tuesday–I guessed that I must have slightly misremembered where on main street they’d been placed.

It wasn’t until Wednesday that I figured it out. Because on Wednesday, the flock of flamingos was on the entire opposite side of the street from before. That’s when I realized that the flock was mobile, and that my disquieting “memory lapse” from Tuesday wasn’t a memory lapse at all. In fact, the flock had been in two different yards on those two days.

Once I realized I was witnessing some sort of cultural happening, I hit up Professor Google, whereby I discovered that this whole “flamingo flocking” thing is a type of community fundraising event. Who knew?(2)

Based on the yard signs and my North Shore location, I’m guessing it’s a resurrection of this Lynnfield fundraiser I found documented from 2014.

I was a bit disappointed not to see the flamingos on Thursday’s or Friday’s commute. I hoped to myself that they were still hopping from yard to yard in the neighborhoods whose streets branch off of my commuting route. That theory was happily proved right this morning when I saw the flock again on main street. And then a bit further down the road, I saw a second flock!

Now, I am a grown-ass woman with a responsible career, a mortgage, bifocals and all the accoutrements of maturity. And yet I literally squealed with glee when I saw flock number 2 this morning.

I don’t know exactly why that next level of whimsy made me so giddy with happiness, but it did. Here’s hoping these migratory pink plastic birds keep going for a week or two longer.


(1) I’m not making this claim as any particular source of pride. I don’t actually think that living my life from the sidelines is the best way to go. But old habits die hard, and these are mine.

(2) And I call myself a fund-raiser.


Image credit: Flickr user diane cordell, via a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license.

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