Friday, May 21, 2010


Imagine if any treetop could be your home. The migratory songbirds flying all night on fast-beating wings are citizens of the treetops. The Canada Warbler I see on a wooded path beside a harbor on the Connecticut shoreline is just stopping over on its long journey from South America. We have chopped down so many trees that this bird is lucky to have found the habitat it needs. And yet for this moment in time, maybe just this one day, this patch of woods is home, the place where you eat and rest and simply live. The bird is alive in this moment, thoroughly inhabiting the space, its own feathery body, and this moment. Imagine if every room you walked into could feel like home. If you could carry home with you, inside your skin. If every moment you were truly alive, not constructing elaborate plans in your mind about your next footstep, but knowing that instinct will lead you to where you need to go.

Pic: National Geographic, Vol. 31, 1917

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Voices in the green

Spring brings on a kind of fever. People here in Connecticut are transformed. The many months of hunkering down and being solitary are a hazy dream. People have started saying hello in the street again. And smiling. Actually smiling. The nature reserve in my neighborhood is overflowing with baby squirrels. Squirrelets. Warblers are zigzagging out of the tops of the oak trees like so much popcorn. Baltimore Orioles are singing their bell-like song and appearing in the top branches like yellow-orange flames. Thrushes are creeping in the undergrowth. Catbirds are chortling and chattering and just plain showing off. They are such born performers. They don't flit away; if anything, it's almost as though they dance a little closer to soak up all the attention.
The sounds of the migrant songbirds overwhelm my brain. I try to keep track of the buzzy trills, the ethereal swishy songs, but they come from all directions -- and now that the trees have leafed out, there is just so much green. This time last year my mate spotted a Blackburnian warbler in this park and showed it to me. It's a tiny firey orange and black bird, and seeing it made me gasp, so incongruous and unexpected those colors were amidst the leaves. I want to see that bird again. I want to get that rush again. It's my drug.

Today, my mate, who has ears like a cat, picked out a Blackburnian's ear-splittingly high-pitched yet thin voice out from everything else. At last, I would see it again! The call was coming from that tree, that great big oak tree. I stealth-rushed to it; I stared up. I bobbed and weaved to look through branches. No, wait, was the sound really coming from that other tree? Creep, creep, creep . . . wait, that tree . . . It became a kind of madness. It was up there somewhere singing and singing. I had to see it. But I would never see it. Just green, a wall of green. Bless that little Blackburnian up there doing its thing, gracefully failing to cooperate with my desires.