'Windy,' A Plastic Bag Caught In A Tree, Is Kathy Frederick's Obsession : The Two-Way Kathy Frederick has admired -- and blogged about -- Windy, a plastic bag caught in a tree outside her window, for more than two years now.

'Windy,' A Plastic Bag Caught In A Tree, Is Kathy Frederick's Obsession

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We all have our obsessions, big and small. And I'm not ashamed to admit that I have a thing about plastic bags in trees. Once you notice them, you see them everywhere. So when we got an email from a listener with the subject line: Plastic bag stuck in a tree for two years and counting - well, that was like catnip for me.

That email came from Kathy Frederick. She works at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Kathy, two years and counting, how many days now?

Ms. KATHY FREDERICK: Oh my gosh, how many days, you're going to make me do the math? Two years and three months, to be exact.

BLOCK: Two years and three months?

Ms. FREDERICK: Mm-hmm. I noticed it March of 2008, after a particularly wicked weekend storm. And I was walking down the hall towards my office, and I glanced out the window, and I saw this very large, white object at the top of a three- or four-story tree in the courtyard of the building where I work. And I thought, oh, that bag - that bag is going to be there forever now - because I could tell right away that it was stuck enough that another wind was not going to come blow it out.

BLOCK: It was really snagged.

Ms. FREDERICK: Very much. Upon closer inspection with a camera and of course, I walked out onto the roof to get a closer look - as, you know, an insane person would do...

BLOCK: Yeah, you have to, right?

Ms. FREDERICK: I got close to it, and I noticed that one of the handles of the bag was on one branch and the other handle was attached to a branch above it. And it was just not going to be taken away by a quick gust. And I thought, yeah, I'm going to keep looking at that. It's going to be weeks, months or even years.

BLOCK: And this was a Wal-Mart bag and...


BLOCK: It has a name now. I'm tempted to call it a she. Is it a she?

Ms. FREDERICK: Yes. Let's call it a she.


Ms. FREDERICK: People catch me doing that and they say, she - what are you talking about? On the blog, I chronicle the progress of this bag and at some point, one of my regular readers said, I think we should get a name for her. And Windy was the one that I went with. I like the name Windy. It just sort of stuck, and we gave her a gender, so she's she. And whenever anybody talks about her on the blog as an it, somebody else always comes in and comments and says, she's not an it; she's a she.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. FREDERICK: And her name is Windy. The fans are, you know, crazy about this lone bag. It's just, you know, really caught everybody's fancy, for some reason.

BLOCK: Including yours. I mean, you have now had two birthday parties, with cake, in your office for Windy, the plastic bag stuck in a tree.

Ms. FREDERICK: I have indeed. And as you can imagine, it's a little strange when I go order the cake at the bakery. I take a picture of her, and the baker will accept the picture.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. FREDERICK: And I'll ask them to please put that on top with a message, and I take it to work. And a lot of people in my building come down and, you know, have cake. And people who didn't know about the bag and only learned about it through having this cake, you know, would ask me to take them over to show them the bag. You know, it doesn't look like it did two years and three months ago. It looks pretty ragged. But I've often thought that if it could all come down in pieces, that if you laid it out all on a table, it would still equal a bag because it's never going to decompose.

BLOCK: Kathy, what do you think you're going to do when Windy is gone, one way or the other?

Ms. FREDERICK: I don't know. People ask me that. You know, what am I going to do? I don't know. Gosh, you've got me thinking now, if I could get her out, I would be really satisfied if I could have her, you know, mounted and with me forever. I know this makes me sound like a nut job. Sorry.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BLOCK: Oh, I don't know, you've got a friend in me.

Ms. FREDERICK: Well, thanks.

BLOCK: Kathy Frederick, thanks so much for talking to us about your experiences with Windy, the plastic bag stuck in a tree.

Ms. FREDERICK: Thank you for having me. Windy would appreciate it.

BLOCK: And there is much, much more about Windy, including video, photos and haiku on Kathy Frederick's blog. You can find a link at NPR.org.

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