Sunday, September 25, 2011

A chorus of swallows

There is a huge pine tree in our neighbors' yard. Both the current owners and the former owner have talked about cutting it down. But its toes are tickled by sweet lilies of the valley in the late spring and all summer long (if you look closely) you can see dozens of hummingbirds alighting on the thinnest of branches.

As autumn brushes our skin and raises the hairs on our arms, there is a new daily happening around the gentle giant. The sun hangs ripe and low and guilds the trees, the grass, and our hair with gold leaf. A chorus of bird song erupts from the top of the dark pine. The raucous, ecstatic laughter emerges from what seems like total silence--as if Mother Nature tapped her baton , raised her arms, and let loose the orchestra with a forte arrangement. Chattering and giggling layered over broad, operatic vocalizations. The concerto lasts for about 10 minutes and then ends as abruptly as it all began. Then the birds depart in pairs and triplets, and in solitary flight. Swallows. Hundreds of swallows pouring from the pine and cartwheeling across the sky.

I'm reminded of the dance of the bees, giving directions to a good cache of nectar. Are they working out their migration schedule? Talking up the all-inclusive bug bar at the Sandals for Swallows South? Or might they simply be singing a singular farwell to their summer home? Welcoming the autumn equinox and the opportunity for us all to turn within--to consider our trajectories for the coming year. Thank you, dear swallows, whatever the reason. Your nightly chorus reminds me to stretch my voice and sing with wild abandon and the pleasure of speaking with love and joy in my heart.

Why do you think the sparrows sing?

1 comment:

DJ said...

A LITTLE bird, with plumage brown,
Beside my window flutters down,
A moment chirps its little strain,
Then taps upon my window-pane,
And chirps again, and hops along,
To call my notice to its song;
But I work on, nor heed its lay,
Till, in neglect, it flies away.

So birds of peace and hope and love
Come fluttering earthward from above,
To settle on life's window-sills,
And ease our load of earthly ills;
But we, in traffic's rush and din
Too deep engaged to let them in,
With deadened heart and sense plod on,
Nor know our loss till they are gone.
--The Sparrow by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1904)