Morning Thoughts—and Edits
This morning’s walk was a fiasco. Instead of energizing or relaxing me—like one's morning exercise is supposed to do—I came across a stray typographical error which pitched me into a funk from which I haven’t yet recovered.
Normally I love my early walks in San Diego’s Balboa Park, when it’s damp and verdant and unspoiled. The few other people are walking their dogs, so there’s a minimum of chatter, just soothing murmurs and reassuring clucks meant for canine ears.
And the dogs themselves—I can’t resist smiling at a pup on his morning walk. The wide smile, the sparking eyes, the determined trot; as if this stretch of grass was not the very same acre he’d covered only 12 hours before.
I felt nearly the same way, upon reaching the corner of the park and taking in the damp smudge of blue-gray-green that was the eucalyptus grove and lawn. The playground was a fuzzy swatch of primary colors—I’d left my glasses at home so everything was slightly impressionistic. Plein air, actually, I corrected myself. Since eucalyptus were the preferred trees of the California plein air painters. I’m a bit of a stickler for detail, you see. Maybe all editors are, I don’t know.
So I moseyed happily along the tree-lined walkway that led down toward the fitness course. Thinking maybe I’d do a few exercises at the par course, or maybe just think about doing them.
Then I saw it. Clear as day. The names of common birds of San Diego County are carved into a concrete walkway there—the sort of quasi-educational sidebar that passes for community improvements nowadays. And among the other names, just as if it belonged there, was the name “Morning Dove.” Well, everyone knows there’s no such thing as a Morning Dove. The bird’s a Mourning Dove. Anyone who ever heard that mournful call of theirs would know that. Mourning, not morning—it’s not a rooster, after all.
No matter what I tried to do after that, I couldn’t shake the thought of it. The factual-looking words (carved in stone, no less!) that told a complete lie. Because it was a lie—not just a typo, but a complete untruth. There is no Morning Dove, in this county or any other—no such bird exists.
I realize that many people won’t ever notice it, that it isn’t an error that will be much noted—if it ever is—by anyone but me. But children, I thought, trusting us to inform and educate them about nature, and its wonders, would walk away somehow less, not more.
I know it’s an occupational hazard for editors to see errors everywhere they look. But it isn’t just typos that abound—it’s grammar, too. Just yesterday I’d seen a headline that read: “Teenage Births on the Rise.” Of course I knew that the paper meant births by teenaged mothers, but still. It’s that kind of sloppiness that promotes lazy thinking.
Everywhere I look I see apostrophes missing or added where they don’t belong. Even names of businesses are often misspelled. And signs, well, it’s best not to even get me started on signs.
I know I should look at it like a free comedy show—I always tell myself that. Those typos and misspellings should be seen like an ongoing cartoon, with new panels supplied daily. All too often, however, I let it get to me…Like today, I allowed that silly typo to raise my blood pressure and get my pulse pounding—but, hey, isn’t that what cardiovascular exercise is supposed to do?
Causes Jennifer Redmond Supports
KPBS, Foundation for Change, ProPeninsula, Anza-Borrego Foundation, Marriage Equality USA