Wednesday, June 23, 2010


I've wanted to write about this for a while. On NPR a couple of weeks ago I caught the tail end of a story that made me go "HUH?!" out loud in my car. A story about a woman obsessed with a plastic bag that got caught in a tree near her work over TWO YEARS AGO. The woman is Kathy Frederick, and the woman's blog (not only about the bag though that has lots of entries) is The Junk Drawer. I called my house and left myself a message on my home machine (my favorite way of reminding myself to do something) to get on the NPR site and investigate further.

The bag got away from a shopper a couple of years ago (whole story told through an imaginined interview with the bag), got caught in the branches of a tree near Kathy's work, and since then she has celebrated the anniversaries of it being there with birthday cake for the whole office, posted videos of it blowing in the fall leaves or on winter bare branches, written haikus about it, rolled out a contest about who can guess when it will come down (day, month, year), and developed a huge following on Facebook.
photo from The Junk Drawer

I am intrigued by how many people are following Windy. I'm in love with the idea that Kathy embraced something which could be seen as annoying, seen as ugly, and made a celebration out of it. Of course she could figure out a way to get it out of the tree, but she wants to see how long it takes to come down on its own---observing divine timing and the elements in action as it were. Practicing less control.

I like that she's taken it and turned it into a reverent game. Like in life when something is plaguing us or nagging at us or repeating itself over and over in our brains perhaps to our frustration--- to then frame it like a game; to have a sense of humor about it; and from there to see that the persistent thing that felt maybe negative in some way is actually an opportunity to practice a change in perspective. It's making us think differently, or act differently, or just practice more acceptance less resistance.

I also like that she has accepted the bag for what it is, not judging it for the circumstances around it. Yes, plastic bags suck. Just the fact that it hasn't disintegrated in the tree for 2 years can make one weep at the thought of the landfills. But there the bag is, and rather than throwing a fit at the bag (which let's be honest would do how much good?) she's making lemonade out of lemons.

I laughed out loud when Kathy admitted on NPR that this story could make her sound like a nut job. I think it's great to sound like a nut job once in a while, especially if the qualifications for sounding like a nut job are that you speak up loudly for something you love.

What I got reminded of in listening to Kathy is everything is not as it seems. Something can look like a curse, someone can look like an enemy, and with a little willingness and openness that thing or person or situation could turn out to be a hidden blessing or best friend. I'm grateful for unexpected reminders that our idiosyncrasies are what make us unique and admirable: I, for one, would not have thought to make a shrine to a plastic bag. That Kathy did has me looking all over my life for what I can show more appreciation for more.


  1. Don't you just love those "driveway moments" on NPR, the ones that make you think about life differently. I think that they change me in little ways. I assume that you listen to This American Life, right?

  2. oh yes. isn't it the BEST thing ever? they haunt me---some of them I heard 8 years ago still come up for me.