Nov 3 2010

Muppet Hair

Melissa Crytzer Fry

During a hike about a week ago, I was sad to see that most of the vegetation was dying off with the approach of winter. But, as always, the desert did not disappoint in its ability to produce life amid the most difficult of circumstances (We’ve had no rain, and the unseasonably warm weather – still in the 80s and 90s – has confused many of our dormant bushes into flowering again).

I came across this Western White Virgin’s Bower vine during a hike down a nearby wash recently. Its snowy blooms remind me of hair you'd see sewn to one of Jim Henson's Muppets. Click to enlarge. Scroll for additional photo.

To my surprise, we were greeted by a green vine that produced fuzzy, hairy seed balls. Unlike any plant I’ve ever seen, they sparkled like snowflakes, their billowy tufts dancing in the wind. Maybe I drew this comparison because the sun actually didn’t come out that day, and the clouds drooping so low above us were reminiscent of the Pennsylvania snow clouds of my youth?

For the longest time, I didn’t know what the vine was, but stumbled upon it in my Audubon book. I felt I had to share the stark beauty of the Western White Virgin’s Bower, which produces a lovely white flower before showing off its Muppet Hair.

For Writers: Do you think writers see the world differently? It struck me that maybe we do, because my immediate response, when I saw the hairy vines, was, “Muppet Hair!” Who knows why things fly out of my mouth as quickly as they do, but it just happens. Frequently and without warning.

And I think, maybe, this is part of being a creative writer. We see things and immediately draw connections, make associations and envision parallels that others might not? That ‘unique’ insight is part of what allows us to paint realistic sensory descriptions with our words. It’s part of what allows us to transport our readers to different worlds.

What do you think? Do we writers see the world through different-colored lenses? Where I saw snowflakes and Muppet hair, did you see something else in the photos? Can you think of times when you experienced or saw something differently than the person next to you? Please share!

This seeding Western White Virgin’s Bower reminds me of the light-falling snow of my youth - a stark contrast in an otherwise yellow-brown and dry winter environment. Click to enlarge.


6 Responses to “Muppet Hair”

  • avatar M. McGriff Says:

    I think writers do see things a lot differently. I notice it a lot when I’m out with my mom and sister and we look at clouds. I’ll see something so intricate and complex and my family would look at me like I’m crazy! LOL

    http://www.mcgriffmusings.wordpress.com

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  • avatar Melissa Says:

    OMG… I’m laughing hysterically. This is the SAME thing I go through with my husband when I point out clouds and what I see in them.

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  • avatar Julie Says:

    You know, I’m not sure we see things differently. I do think that you’re right about making connections though.
    I think we think about things different. Other people may ‘see’ the same thing and get the same sensation. We describe the sensation. We do it whether we’re writing it down, or whether it is just in our head where no one else ever hears it.
    We make the connection and express the connection. We log the connection into a database in our brains and eventually, when we least expect it, we download that connection and it becomes one of our character’s thoughts.
    At least that seems to be how my crazy writing brain works…
    Then readers relate to that character, because they did ‘see’ the same thing, they just never knew how to express it or capture it, or share it, quite like we did.

    Just my take though…

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  • avatar Rachna Chhabria Says:

    Melissa..you are not alone in this. I am with you. When I see clouds I see strange patterns, I can even make stories from the patterns I see. 🙂

    We writers see things very differently. Its just a part of being a writer. The way our creative cells work and process things, is different from other professionals.

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  • avatar Donna Cummings Says:

    This was great. I love the “Muppet Hair” description–perfect!

    Whether we see things differently, I do agree our brains gather information and store it differently, for use later. I also believe we have a *need* to describe and explain and depict things we see. Others see something and process it in their own way–artists, photographers, etc. We need to translate our experiences and sensations in words, in the hopes that others will feel it in the same way.

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  • avatar Melissa Says:

    Julie – You’re so right about us maybe not seeing things differently, but ‘expressing’ them differently. I often admire other writers’ work and think, “Wow. What a unique, but effective, way to describe X. Genius!” And you’re so right when you say that some readers “just never knew how to express it or capture it, or share it.” Thanks for the insight.

    Rachna – Glad I’m not the only one seeing odd shapes in the sky. Sometimes my husband just shakes his head.

    Donna – Yes! Yes! I aree with this.We do feel the absolute need to describe and explain things. I’m often struck at how differently I gather info and store it, as you mention, compared to my husband, even (let’s pick on him today!). But when talking with other writers, I see I’m not alone. I guess we’re hard-wired!

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