Thursday, February 5, 2009

Pine Straw & Blurry Vision

I park my truck close to several pine trees, which are prone to drop needles in copious quantities throughout the year. Birds sit in those same pine trees, and those birds are prone to drop...well, other stuff in copious quantities.

We are familiar with the phenomenon of bird poo on the windshield. It always lands right in the middle of your field of vision, so instead of seeing that traffic light turn from green to yellow, you see partially digested berries and such. So we try to remove the poo: Squirt washer fluid; turn on wiper blades; observe that poo is now thinly spread in an arc across the driver side, like a macabre rainbow, promising things much different than that the earth will not be destroyed again by flood.

After several weeks of drought conditions and copious needle dropping, I noticed another phenomenon during the next rainy drive. A pine needle under my wiper blade. All drivers know what that means. But I distinctly recalled that when last I operated my wiper blades, all was clear, which raised the immediate question of how the needle came to be in its present location, notwithstanding popular notions of evolution and natural selection. After deliberating whether it placed itself there by dint of will or if someone with a wry sense of humor -- knowing my tendency to over-analyze completely meaningless phenomena -- placed it there, and after briefly entertaining the notion to exit the vehicle and remove the offending needle, I decided instead to let it be, knowing (so I thought) the rather fragile nature of pine needles, the laws of friction and motion, that I would get wet, and that even if I didn't see the yellow light, some other driver would surely honk his horn.

A month or two later, the needle persists.

Not that I haven't tried all I could think of to remove it (save exiting the vehicle). Intermittent wipers, at all the various speeds. High speed wipers. A flood of washer fluid. Defroster. Excessive wind shear (I'm not admitting anything). Yet there it sits, clinging sadly to my wiper blade. It is, to be sure, a bit worse for wear, faded, tattered, limp. But it still blurs my vision on rainy days. And each time I curse its tenacity.

I learn much from the needle.

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