Sunday, June 2, 2013

Four years + five days later

I'm finally trying to get some of our tomatoes into the ground this morning (even though it is supposed to go down to 43 degrees tonight) when my heart stopped! I stopped digging, I stopped talking with our wonderful Sunday morning helpers. I listened, I yearned, I tried not to believe I was only imagining what I had heard, but when I heard the flute-like song of a wood thrush ring out from the woods just behind our garden, it took everything in me not to burst into tears of joy and happiness right then, right in front of my helpers.

I did have them stop digging like I had to just listen to some rare music, even just a verse or two. I didn't need to go find this bird. Hearing it's haunting and even magical music was plenty for me. Those few notes took me right back to some place I've been before. To hear it again for real, not just in my memory, was joyful, a blissful experience. :)

Here are the ending verses of one of Mary Oliver's poems in which she speaks of a wood thrush:

'Such Singing in the Wild Branches'

Such soft and solemn and perfect music doesn't last
for more than a few moments.
It's one of those magical places wise people
like to talk about.
One of the things they say about it, that is true,
is that, once you've been there,
you're there forever.
Listen, everyone has a chance.
Is it spring, is it morning?
Are there trees near you,
and does your own soul need comforting?
Quick, then - open the door and fly on your heavy feet; the song
may already be drifting away.

The wood thrush population has significantly declined over the past several decades. So yes, indeed its song may already be drifting away. I hope you get a chance to hear it someday (soon). If you have, if you have really heard it, if you have dropped what you are doing or thinking about to really listen, you will never need a tape or an 'app' to hear it again to fix it in your memory. You will just know it. It has become a part of you, and you will hope (long, even ache) to hear it again like I do. 
I really hope the tomatoes we got planted today (many more to be done asap) are not stunted by the hard night they are going to have. If so, I will simply think of each of them as my "2013 wood thrush tomatoes" and appreciate each one even more.  
Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row,
Diana Dyer, MS, RD


Singing in the Dark said...

Diana, one of the most magical bird moments (and maybe a most magical moment, period) was the first time I heard a wood thrush. It was in an L-shaped corner created by my mud room and bedroom and the sound echoed and swirled and came in windows from 2 directions and I was hooked. I'm transfixed whenever I've heard it since. It makes my heart ache and soar at the same time. Thank you for sharing your moment.

Singing in the Dark said...

PS. The recordings don't do it justice. It must be experienced live.

Diana Dyer said...

Yes, an aching and soaring heart.........I understand that feeling. And yes, hearing the wood thrush sing live, and unexpectedly, is a magical moment that simply pierces the heart, pierces the brain, and both transfixes and transports the soul.

I count myself lucky to have had this experience several times, in fact, I believe hearing this song alone could constitute a full life. Thus I do enjoy the rare opportunity to share it.

A member of my birding listserv in SE MIchigan sent me this Zen parable, published in the book The Singing Life of Birds by Donald Kroodsma:

"If you listen to the thrush and hear a thrush,
you've not really heard the thrush.
But if you listen to a thrush and hear a miracle,
then you've heard the thrush."

It's hard to find words more descriptive of the emotions that this deep experience can evoke.

Thank you for sharing yours. :)

Singing in the Dark said...

Diana, the Zen quote brought me quite literally to tears. I know the miracle. Thank you for sharing.