Last week in a bookstore near Amherst, Massachusetts I noticed a tiny origami crane sitting on a shelf of dinosaur books.
I hardly gave it another thought until the next day, when I saw another one perched on the napkin dispenser in a diner.
Later, in the Bela restaurant in Northampton I saw three more miniature origami cranes next to a flower vase. I asked the waiter how they got there. “I don’t know,” he said. “They just appeared. We love them. But no one knows who put them there.”
At the Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, five more cranes appeared on the corner of the table where I had just been signing books.
No one claimed them, so I put them in my sketch pouch. Where were they coming from? Did they reproduce spontaneously, like the road kill kitties? Or was there some sweatshop in the Pioneer Valley staffed by nimble-fingered elves?
What was I supposed to do with them? Did someone want me to disperse them in public spaces? Was I an unwitting pawn in some vast culture-jamming, shopdropping conspiracy? I felt more befuddled than ever. But I sensed a call to action.
I glued thin wires under them so that they could fly. I placed one in a grocery store near the taco mix. I put another one on a display of Mentos gum.
Three more origami cranes are in my sketch pouch waiting to be set free. Maybe you’ll discover them in a convenience market, a big box store, or a donut shop.