"Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens."


Carl Jung

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On The Nightstand
  • Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver
    Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver
  • A Wolf Called Romeo
    A Wolf Called Romeo
  • The Songs of Trees: Stories from Nature's Great Connectors
    The Songs of Trees: Stories from Nature's Great Connectors
Wednesday
Jul082009

Tree Huggers

yardlight startles kits

scampering up a large trunk

three small masked bandits

 

 

 

Wednesday
Jul012009

Wood Thrush: A Shakespeare Among Birds

I've long had a deep appreciation for birdsongs. For me, they are the pied-pipers of the natural world, an unseen magnet that always pulls me strongly in their direction. The vocal abilities of birds are so very diverse and fascinating: They sing, they talk, they whinny and squawk and squeak. They chip, chirp and chack, and they cry and crow and caw.  Some birds bark or croak, grunt and grumble. Many species, at one time or another mutter and mumble and whisper. If I were to accomplish nothing more than to sit and listen to birds throughout an entire day, I would think of that day as time very well spent.

"Male Wood Thrush" by Louis Agassiz Fuertes (c. 1900; watercolor)I enjoy all birdsongs, but to hear musical genius, I go to the woods, for that is where I can find the haunting melody of my most favorite songster: the Wood Thrush. He sings more enchantingly than any bird I know. The brown-backed, speckle-breasted, eight-inch Wood Thrush only looks drab. All of his beauty is concentrated in his voice. Let the scarlet tanager take the prize as the forest's flashiest dresser. Among his winged brethren, the song of the wood thrush has no equal. The male is able to sing two notes at once, which gives its song an ethereal, flute-like quality. His singular talent won this common bird the unabashed affection of two of America's foremost naturalists, an artist and a writer. While traveling in Europe, Audubon got homesick for "the sweet melodious strains of that lovely recluse, my greatest favorite, the Wood Thrush." Thoreau said, "He touches a depth in me which no other bird's song does," and he called the Wood Thrush "a Shakespeare among birds." The song has inspired many lofty descriptions, such as this excerpt from the writings of a naturalist in the 1930's:

“As we listen we lose the sense of time—it links us with eternity...Its tones...seem like the vocal expression of the mystery of the universe, clothed in a melody so pure and ethereal that the soul still bound to its earthly tenement can neither imitate nor describe it.”

 

Ancient magic lives on in the woods. You can go there and hear what Audubon heard and Thoreau  described:

“The thrush alone declares the immortal wealth and vigor that is in the forest. Here is a bird in whose strain the story is told...Whenever a man hears it he is young, and Nature is in her spring; whenever he hears it, it is a new world and a free country, and the gates of heaven are not shut against him.”

The Wood Thrush has become a symbol of the decline of Neotropical songbirds of eastern North America, having declined 43 percent since 1966. If we care to ensure that the song of the Wood Thrush will continue to grace our forests each summer, we must protect our remaining large tracts of forest and minimize development which contributes to fragmentation.

 

Saturday
Jun272009

Nightlife

toads croaking softly

screech owl calls once then silence

the fireflies dance