Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Winged Life

"He that binds to himself a Joy
does the Winged Life destroy.
He that kisses the Joy as it flies
lives in Eternity's sunrise"  
                                          --William Blake

I've been listening to birds a lot lately. Watching them with fresh eyes, too, especially when they take their wee swims in the birdbath outside my door. A little water, a little green, a feeder or two, and you too may notice we are living in an aviary.

This Spring I heard Loons for the first time. Their melancholy evening songs unfurled over the lake as I almost missed the moment, running around trying to record their long moaning hoots and tremulous spiraling calls to each other.

The nickname of one of my favorite feathered creatures is the Be Here Now bird, also known as the Olive-sided Flycatcher. The more prosaic description of its call is "Quick Three Beers".  But if you are listening to him in the Springtime at Esalen Institute, you too might hear him singing, "Just Be Here..."

Recently I spotted (true words of a birdwatcher) a small yellow-chested bird with a beautiful song. She flitted, as only a tiny bird can flit, among the branches of a purple flowering bush, chirping in what was surely delight. Ah, the Lesser Goldfinch.  (Quick note, if you have cats, playing these recordings will drive them nuts!)

The Flicker gives a bark-like "Kyeer" call in the daily dawn chorus, sometimes punctuated with drumming on oak trees. This is the kind of sound that can make you laugh under the covers as you prepare to meet the day.  There are other members of the flock among us: Woodpeckers, Crows, Hawks and the unmistakable heavies of the bird world, the Ravens.

Birds have provided our philosophers, dreamers and lovers with poetic opportunities for centuries. From condors to hummingbirds, they spark our collective imagination as they lighten our hearts.  These angels of the animal kingdom are so far still abundant here in Big Sur, with its ample forests and meadows, along with (this past year at least) abundant rainwater blessing springs and streams.

A friend told me once over coffee that one of the best things about waking up spiritually was to finally, finally hear bird-song in the morning. Thank you dear friend whose name I cannot remember. Your words are with me still.