“Hope” is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops – at all
– Emily Dickinson
Birds don’t sing when the sun comes up.
The sun comes up when birds start singing.
A dawn chorus.
A cacophony of celebration.
On my morning walks in Sabino Canyon Park I slow down in the riparian area along the creek to birdwatch. Newly back to birdwatching when I see birds I write down their descriptions and go home to try to identify them. I get frustrated when I can’t find what I remember seeing in any bird book.
Many mornings I run into a man named Will. He’s what they call an ear-birder. He can identify birds simply by their song. We stand still among the trees as he identifies the birds he’s hearing. With his help, when I’m also able to identify the bird by sight and sound, I become excited.
Will tells me he’s been birding since he was six years old, and he knows every bird song in North America. But he wishes he could do a brain erase of everything he knows so he could be in the place where I am, the place of discovering, learning and excitement about every new bird identified.
I keep thinking about what Will said. How can I apply this concept of brain erase to this unprecedented time on earth – when all our routines and patterns and ways of going through each day have been erased? Is there a way to focus on, and turn towards, the new place of learning, discovery and excitement about our lives?
I haven’t walked in the park for a week. Its gotten too crowded. Everyone is out early to beat the unseasonably hot temperatures (over 100F, 40C). Instead, I happily walk at dawn in my neighborhood, where the birds like to hang out in the leafy trees.
When I spot a bird I stand quietly in the present moment, free my mind and take in its beauty. Every bird I see is a gift – I especially like when they look back at me. Every song I hear lifts my spirits. And every time a bird flies away I cheer it on. Because for right now, those birds have my wings.