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.