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

For more than two years, Kathy Frederick has admired, and blogged about, a plastic bag, caught on the limbs of a tree outside her window.

She and her regular readers have assigned it a gender -- and a name.  Don't use a gender-neutral pronoun when you refer to "Windy," Frederick cautions.  Windy is a she.

In an interview with NPR's Melissa Block, who claims to share Frederick's obsession with plastic bags caught in the boughs of trees, Frederick says that she first noticed Windy in 2008, when a "particularly wicked weekend storm" carried her -- NB: I'm referring to Windy here -- to the top of a tree on the Lehigh University campus, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

"I thought, oh, that bag is going to be there forever now," Frederick said. "I could tell right away that it was stuck enough that another wind was not going to come blow it out."

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 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.

Turns out, it has been.  Two years and three months, to be precise.  Frederick has marked each birthday with a custom cake, decorated with a photograph of Windy.

Her -- Frederick's -- regular commentary about the bag, posted on The Junk Drawer, her blog, has attracted a legion of followers.

"The fans are crazy about this lone bag," she said.  "It's really caught everybody's fancy, for some reason."

UPDATE at 7:15 p.m. ET: In 1997, Melissa Block reported a piece about three men who pluck plastic bags from the tops of trees, which Wila Kent (wilapace) mentioned in the comments section below.  One of the men is humorist Ian Frazier, a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine.

We found the piece in our archives:

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

David Gura
Based in New York, David Gura is a correspondent on NPR's business desk. His stories are broadcast on NPR's newsmagazines, All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition, and he regularly guest hosts 1A, a co-production of NPR and WAMU.