In general, Eloisa thought there was danger in becoming complacent and adamant about one’s personal perspectives of reality. Assumptions maintained by routine beliefs, she recognized, created schisms and ischemia that contributed to static breathless landscapes. Eloisa thought herself as a philosopher, yes, but also a “painter.” The worst things that could happen were obstacles like these standing in the way of hope and inspiration.
So it was this that Brooklyn was slowly becoming for Eloisa. As she saw it, for the most part, the vibrancy and diversity of NYC was generated by people. Otherwise, most considered the city essentially dead space. Buildings stacked and smashed together replaced once heavily-forested hunting grounds of the Onondaga and Oneida first peoples, the pastoral plains, foraging grounds of Elks, bears, fox; nesting grounds of eagles, hawks, monarch butterflies, and hummingbirds. Once-fertile land paved and sealed. Only veins of earth allowed to remain, emerging to support a paucity of trees and vegetation: the lungs of an asthmatic borough. Eloisa assumed the trees present only supplied enough oxygen to support human inhabitants, a few brown sparrows, mice and roaches. She never gave a thought to the adaptability of the creatures. Her view of her ecosystem – ailing, dry, infertile, void of creatures that added bursts of beauty, life, and color. It was her crusade to mend the respiratory ailment by adding more green.
The day after the alley incident, she and Aria heard a very strange buzzing in the garden. They saw a pair of ruby-throated hummingbirds feeding on the buddleia bush. Both gasped in amazement that these small delicate creatures had found their way there.
“Well, I’ll be!” exclaimed Eloisa.
A gentle slap to arrogance caused by her infantile inflexibility stung Eloisa’s ego.
“Maybe it’s just our notion that they could never want to come to a place as dusty and barren as this. Maybe they’ve been coming all along and we haven’t seen them,” she said.
Aria watched the small delicate birds adeptly feed on the clustered flowers.
“You help me reframe, Aria. Let’s go for a walk. A little reframing might help you out too.”
Aria called up to H-C and Kiev to tell them she was going.
“What’s reframe, Eloisa?”
“It’s like opening your eyes anew or cocking your head so you can see the world differently. Well more differently than the way you’ve been looking at it.”
“What makes you want to reframe?” Aria pressed on.
“I think I’ve been too high on my horse, Doll. Honestly, I didn’t think this neighborhood could possibly support hummingbirds and if it could I didn’t think it was worthy of their presence.”
“Because, really, I’m embarrassed to admit, I didn’t think it carried enough beauty, that it was too spoiled.”
“You mean, you thought it was too ugly?”
“In a way, I guess, too ugly. Ugly to me is no color, no life, polluted, not clean, disconnection and abandonment.”
“Is that what you see here? How can you live in a place that is like that for you? How could you love anything that’s polluted?” Somehow this question hit more deeply than the rest.
“In my arrogance, yes, that’s what I have been mostly seeing. I settled into that. Maybe I am no messiah, just an apostle,” she produced a toothy grin.
“I think sometimes you get forced to reframe,” Aria said sadly.
“Be our fault for being inflexible about the way we think about our homes. There they are, bet they’ve been here all along,” Eloisa said, seemingly ignoring Aria’s comment. Aria knew she was not being disrespect, it was just Eloisa’s way to be completely involved in feeling the answer as much as she thought about it.
They began their walk around the neighborhood to see what they could find in terms of plants that might attract hummingbirds. They cocked their heads, blurred their conceptual vision, and widened their frames.
Many potted plants dressed porches with clematis, or different varieties of Nicotiana. They noticed honeysuckles in some people’s yards and raggedy but living buddleia bushes of all varieties. They noticed some of their neighbors put out bird feeders and some even hung hummingbird feeders --they knew! Aria and Eloisa walked. They walked with a bird’s-eye perspective. That day they walked for many blocks, each with diamonds in their eyes, the shimmer of which brightened with each new discovery.
They saw evidence of birds and their human allies’. On top of street lights, in the crux of small grooves of tree branches, in backyard gardens, container plants, hanging feeders on houses, hanging feeders on butcher shops. They noticed chicken coops, wisteria, morning glories, and sweet peas.
They’d spent two hours meandering from Bed-Stuy to Fort Greene. Through some areas not so welcoming to humans, though perfectly safe for birds. Peeking over fences at the end of blocks, stopping to admire and examine pits home owners had planted and nurtured.
Before heading home they caught the F train in downtown Brooklyn to have some refreshments at Junior’s restaurant. They each sat in silence, pecking away at their cheesecake. Eloisa in the end, satisfied she was offered this gift of reframe. She had woken and felt refreshed.