Saturday, June 5, 2010


Each night when I lay my head down on the pillow, I am surprised at the richness of harmonies at play outside. At the pond across the street there are crickets chirping, bullfrogs bellowing, and peepers contributing their own high notes. More cacophony than symphony for sure; but there is no mute button, and the windows must remain open when the weather is so warm. Sometimes there is the desolate sound of an owl echoing through the darkness. Occasionally an animal puts forth an unexpected wailing that fills my heart with dread, for it sounds as if a baby were lost in the brush. City sounds are nothing compared to what you can hear at twilight in the country. But I find the most comforting of all to be the wind whistling through the trees, often times announcing the arrival of the rain. When they come, the drops will softly pat, pat, pat on the rooftop - the lullaby which will lull me to sleep. The whistling could be considered the prelude, though it might be the only sound there is on an uneventful night. For me it's what I long to hear when I close my eyes and pull the blankets up tight.

My mother can name the species from a simple trill whistle miles off. Then she might go on to explain what they eat, the habitat they prefer, the color of the eggs they lay in a nest shaped just so. Me? B pointed to a green and blue bird at the pet store the other day and said, "Chicken!" I patted his head and murmured, "Close enough." Birds are not my speciality. I can't whistle either. Now we have baby birds living in a house on our house. The mother flies in, the mother flies out. We try to leave them alone, but when we can't bear the tug of twee aliveness, we softly open the door and peek at the two skinny necks, the impossibly fragile beaks that open at our intrusion, thinking we are a source of food. My mother says these are chickadees. To me they look like insubstantial chickens, but I trust her.


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