“Auspicious Cranes,” a hand scroll on silk attributed to Song emperor Huizong (r. 1101 – 1126). Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Regular followers will know that I have a fond relationship with my Dad. Or had, as he passed away in 2009. But every now and then I feel as though he sends greetings. Of course, rationally this is nonsensical, but the part of me that is sympathetic to the metaphysical and symbolic finds these resonances appealing.

Consider the following email correspondence my Mum and I shared the day after my birthday.

My mum wrote, “Was this not your ‘Hobbit coming-of-age’ birthday? Robin [i.e. my Dad] used to speak about his but I was never sure when it was as I had never read the book!”

“That is rather uncanny!” I replied, “It was indeed. I never recall Dad talking about the Hobbit, or this milestone. A number of die-hard Lord of the Rings fans mentioned it to me (I have also not read the book). I shall take that as Dad’s birthday salutation.”

From the archive, a poem about an auspicious and uncanny coincidence that happened on the day after my birthday last year.

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