Dawn Chorus

Sitting by the full-blooming dogwood tree, dappled white, drinking my tea, watching dawn happen. The half-moon, still bright in mid-sky, slips in and out of view, as scudding clouds roll by. Shapes emerge from darkness, presenting themselves as trees, fence posts, a great bush for roses, a few iris, and then ten million tiny stems at ground level, wild, blooming wetly in the dew.

Meanwhile, the sounds. Dawn chorus. I attempt the impossible, to hear every bird separate, each song unique, even as they all sound at once. (I’ve always wondered at musical composers, the gift they have, or orchestra leaders, hearing the exactness of each of the different instruments instead of what I hear, a blended symphony.)

With wonder, I attempt and fail to sort the morning sounds—chirps and tweets and caws and twitters and all the rest. The birds’ immersion in the atmosphere of early morning, in the forest and the meadow and the very air, here, there, everywhere, but unobtrusive, hidden still, in the shelter of their nests, awakening, fluttering tentatively their little wings, even as they sing.

I am reminded of a Vermeer painting, seemingly so serenely straight forward, with that signature blue and yellow I so love, but on study revealing a multitude of things, layer after layer of carefully thought out and arranged structure, form, technique, philosophical statement. Vermeer’s ability to create a unity of composition out of his awareness of so many individual details that the subject of the painting, however significant or lovely, is but one more detail. The subject of the painting seems immersed in the total atmosphere, perhaps mesmerized by it. One writer said of Vermeer: “Other artists paint people in a room; Vermeer paints a room with people in it.”

This morning, I appreciate a world with multitudes of birds in it, singing and calling, all at once, loud here, soft there, vibrant everywhere, and all without disturbing so much as an inch of air, as e.e.cummings might say (What are the copy right laws anyway? I suppose I can quote only excerpted bits from one of my favorite poems):

“Spring is like a perhaps hand

(which comes carefully

out of Nowhere…”

“…moving a perhaps

fraction of flower here placing

an inch of air there) and

without breaking anything.”

He’s wrong, of course, things are broken, even by spring. The onrush of weeds, for example, there in the corner of the yard, crowds out one little struggling azalea that is obviously nearly broken. I should deal with that later. But, right now, sitting here, I can let it all be as it is.

Gladly I can simply listen and silently greet with praise whatever I hear and see. No need to orchestrate. What a relief! The sun rises, all on its own. The birds have once again brought in a new day.

Now they quieten, as they go about their business of finding breakfast and testing the air currents overhead. May I go too with such grace into the details, the voices, the challenges, the richness of my own new day.  May I create, or discover, an underlying unity there, a unity that includes all the world, and worlds, and all I love.


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3 Responses to Dawn Chorus

  1. Carol H. says:

    Beautiful … I could join with you and hear the birds, see the colors … thanks for sharing this! And good for you for taking the time to write ! Necessary to your soul.. hugs, Carol

  2. Silence Singing says:

    Response – Weed pulling on Saturday morning
    I have not started my spring weed pulling because it has been so dry and the earth does not readily separate from the roots. But this morning I see a heavy dew and last night my brother watered so I test a few and yes they do come up by the roots. (Many ask why I do not use the weed killer chemical/fertilizer, but that does not make me sweat and it takes less time, besides being caustic.)
    The weeds I pull have a center from which there are many offshoots. I find it satisfying to find a long offshoot and follow it to the source where I gather as many offshoots together as possible. Then I find the right balance of twisting where I make the offshoots a single pulling rope without tearing them or separating them from the roots. Sometimes I am hasty and the roots remain. I know I will pay for my haste or inattention by dealing with the same thing in the same place in the future. But when the balance is found I hear the distinct crackling of roots leaving earth. I am always amazed at how much comes up. By taking the time and attention to follow things to the root source, so much more is cleared, so much space is opened for preferred new growth.
    I always give gratitude to the weeds I pull for any service they have given of which I am ignorant. I am almost guilty that I choose to pull them, but leave the lupins, just as wild and uncultivated, because the lupins hold a promise of beauty, if fleeting, which the weeds in my estimation do not.
    Because I saw a PBS special on telescopes finding the edges of the universe last night, my thought drift to infinity and the vagueries of choice. I am looking for stars (the center of the weed) and making choices per my sense of reality and inculturation of what stays and goes. Per the Physicists at the moment we only have knowledge of 5% of the 4 dimensions we are aware of (dark energy & dark matter making up the other 95%). And if they are right about 10 or more dimensions, what choices may be being made for opening space for future beauty in our universe– such as I am making for my yard — and suddenly the peony blossom just forming becomes a supernova gathering energy for a spectacular explosion of whiteness that will fade in only a few days, leaving just the remnants of beauty in infrared on my memory banks.
    I am accompanied in my front yard wanderings by Belle my Siamese cat. She is a Golden Seal, white with dark orange markings and cold powder blue eyes with a depth like ice that has not melted in a thousand years. I remember that her lineage is one of guardianship, and her insistent loyalty to stay near to me sometimes makes me feel that I am being guarded from things of which I have no knowledge. It is strange that she will keep her silence for long periods and then suddenly her racous cry of purrranerangh will be heard and she will walk through my pulling space to demand a pat/scratch. (it it so lovely to watch her slowly move the position of the scratch and then fall into it with a purr.) I have learned to pay attention, asking questions when she does this and notice that many times she is telling me that I need to stand and pull for a while, because my hips are stiff from ground sitting. Or she is telling me that she is hot and wants to go in, but cannot because I am not stopping. As passing jogger jokes seeing Belle that I have a helper, and I laugh with the passerby – but feel in my heart I do indeed have a helper for whom I am grateful.
    As for listening to birds, I have not the diversity of Earthsprings, so I can make out some of the orchestra. Here is the steady five beat chirp of the cardinal…chirp chirp chirp chirp chirp pause pause – repeat. This is accompanied by the off beat percussion of the crows – caw caw caw caw caw caw and underneath the smooth cool melody of the doves.
    So the morning has flown – balances have been sought and sometimes found, gratitude has been given for gifts both known and unknown, the universe has been contemplated, space for future growth has been opened, and my front lawn is devoid of enough clutter that my neighbors may no longer be tempted to cite me. Not a bad start to Saturday.
    Margaret Crawford

  3. Glenda says:

    Lovely, Lovely. Thank you.

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