Finding a Blue Jay Feather

is lucky, especially one this blue, striped black horizontally on one side of the rib and tipped with white. The tiny feathers of the feathers called barbs, grow twigs called barbules, carry miniature hooklets to hold the web of feathers together, more complex than the superstructure of a jet plane, all this wonder of engineering in your pocket. It lifted the clamorous jay above the stubble fields, winter-bleached and hard as iron, above the cumbered river still as stone, above abandoned barns where ghosts of horses breathe their frosty breaths. It offers you a journey, if you will take the risk, propelled by this flexible oar that once rowed the invisible lanes of the air.

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