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Visible and invisible patterns


Seeing patterns and noticing disturbances in a pattern is part of our genetic make-up. It's useful for seeing an animal lurking in savannah or for noticing an elusive electromagnetic field.

Since I am often looking for things British, it seemed hardly worth noting that West Chester was founded by English settlers, that I had spent pleasant hours looking at beautiful Chippendale desks and chairs (more about that later) or that I was flying to Portland, Oregon, which was named after a town in England (and one in Maine).

When, before the crack of dawn, my driver told me without any encouragement that he was descended from English settlers, I gave him only a sleep-derprived nod, and I boarded my Boeing 737 without recollecting that Frank Whittle had invented the jet plane that was flying me thousands of miles home.

I admit I was slightly interested that the airline magazine was celebrating Ian Fleming's 100th birthday (this May) with a major feature on James Bond and his impact on style, technology, and travel.

But it did not seem significant that the young Chinese woman sitting next to me was reading Ken Follett's World without End and that the English Consort was playing on the radio before I switched to the news on the drive home. It was just part of my in-born predilection for seeing a pattern.

Alright, I silently thought as I drove toward my garage, see one more British thing. There was nothing - I was sure there wouldn't be - and I parked. As I switched off the car, I was caught by the sight of two barerooted roses, sitting alone by the curb, still in their Jackson & Perkins bags. I knew they must be English roses even before I bent down and read their labels.

Left for my neighbour, they were David Austin roses, and their name was Christopher Marlowe - "I will make thee beds of roses".

Sweet serendipity.

The pattern that is significant, that gives me the most happiness, and that all these patterns depend upon, is nearly invisible.